Onwards and Upwards

The first day of school. Every year since Pre-K, we’ve all gone through the same routine. For example, the all-encompassing anxiety of seeing back-to-school supplies everywhere. No matter where you go, it’s back-to-school time, despite it feeling as though summer just started. Just when you wanted to forget about the impending, dreaded first day of school, you turn on the TV and are greeted by back-to-school commercials. 

That being said, let’s not forget about the joys of going back to school: making that annual trip to Staples, Target or any office supply store with your school supply list in hand, buying new pencils, pens and erasers that in all probability will be lost or stolen within the first week, the shopping for the first day of school outfit, then picking out of the lunch box or backpack with the most swag; the list goes on.  

When talking about the first day of school, I think we all have the quintessential experience in mind. Getting up extra early, making sure you’ve had a full breakfast, trying to make it out the door without any pictures being taken by an overbearing parent and so on. Some of us, however, have had less common experiences. 

This brings to mind the ugly memory of myself, circa 2006, entering a new school on my first day of fifth grade. Armed with my side ponytail – looking prime with a bedazzled barrette holding back the side bangs that are also known to be one of the worst decisions of my life – my green glittery top from Limited Too and my newest Sketcher sneakers, I was ready. The best part of this outfit? It had to be my glittery “Incredibles” backpack. Did I mention it had wheels? That’s right.

I would later discover what a bad decision it was when I realized how small the lockers were. I also realized that it was so awkward that I wasn’t even able to bring it to classes – leaving my precious school supplies in the hall. Moreover, I was new to the school, so I didn’t have any new friends to help me laugh off my bad luck. Quite the opposite actually – I had to impress new friends, and at that point, who would want to be friends with the kid with the non-functioning, rolling “Incredibles” backpack? Talk about a hellish first day of school. I was basically set up to be the class loser before I even spoke to anyone.

At this point, you are probably wondering why I just referenced a previous first day of school horror story. While in college we don’t have our parents sending us off to school after taking an embarrassing amount of photos – they have arrival day for that instead – and I’ve since ditched the rolling backpack but, to be quite honest, my first day of school in fifth grade is not so different from what all first-years and transfer students experience – being new. 

Just as I didn’t know anyone in fifth grade, most of us new students don’t know anyone here. It’s easy to get lost on the first day and it is unnerving when you aren’t entirely sure where to find your next class. Moreover, it’s hard to feel like you fit in right away which – whether or not you admit it – we all crave. Each person looks like one of many in a sea of unfamiliar faces and at a certain point in the day one can become desperate for a familiar face. While most of us have been new to something, it’s never easy. But just as I survived fifth grade, a year which went on to be one of my favorites, we will all survive and enjoy college.