It was the one and only day of the school year that I was awake and dressed with a few minutes to spare. Mom would be waiting with her camera to force a smile onto my tired, anxious face. Looking back at the photos is like a trip back in time. With every forced smile was a different year of worries and wonders. My hair changed at least seven times, and you could tell Mom quickly lost the privilege of styling me. The outfit choices surprisingly seemed to worsen. The mornings got earlier, and the background skies got darker. Who could forget those mornings full of butterflies as you made your way into a fresh, new school year?
The one and only exciting part of August coming to an end was clothes shopping! My birthday always limited this event though. Having a September birthday means you get about half of the new clothes your friends get because of the famous line, “Well, let’s wait and see what you get for your birthday.” This made for difficult begging. Picking the outfit for your first day was always difficult. Should you go summery or fally? Do you slip into those new blue jeans or wear your short shorts for as long as the weather allows. Is the air conditioner at school going to be working this year? Will I be too hot in my new sweater? There are so many things to consider.
One of the scariest thoughts in the world was walking into a class and knowing nobody. This was a problem I ran into a lot. No, it was never in history or math. It was always in a class like gym or science. I always ended up the loner. But hey, how else are you going to meet anybody outside of your little circle? Through the years technology made it easier to know what to expect walking into each class. In fifth grade we called each other from the house phone to exchange schedules. By seventh we were posting them into our buddy profiles. And by the time high school came around we had pictures of our schedules posted on any social network we could find.
Coming out of a large school district, we had four different schools to get to know. Those were the first days that brought the most anxiety. Learning your way around schools one bigger then the next was very scary for me. Even if you went and mapped everything out before the first day arrived, it didn’t matter. It all changed after your first day. It takes at least a week to figure out who you cross paths with, who you had time to meet in between class, what halls you should avoid, and where your locker ended up being that year.
Really, first days never do go away. I find myself having many of the same feelings when I start anything new as an adult. Luckily, my mother isn’t there for photos anymore.