Does anyone remember the opening scene in Finding Nemo? Nemo is bouncing around in his anemone screaming, “First day of school! First day of school!” excitedly, in an attempt to wake his Dad up. There was probably a time in my life when I was just as excited as little Nemo for the first day of school. When the scent of freshly sharpened pencils and plastic tool boxes smelt like heaven. Or when walking across the playground in my crisp new, back-to-school clothes felt like glory.
But to be completely honest the First Day of School has lost a bit of its charm for me. The First Day means the end of a long summer that didn’t feel quite long enough. No more day-long beach trips, reading for pleasure, and coffee dates with friends. The First Day is not an end, it’s also a beginning. The beginning of busy schedules, back-breaking amounts of homework, and “Actually, can we reschedule for next week?” weeks and weeks in a row. I’m nauseous already, thinking about how quickly my calendar will fill up with tests and assignment due dates and events and everything else that comes along with the restlessness of being in college.
But then again, maybe all of that is just an excuse--a cover up for why I’m really not looking forward to going back to school. Maybe I don’t actually mind the business and the restlessness. Perhaps I’m afraid that things will be different this year, in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Maybe it’s the fact that some of my closest friends have graduated or are studying abroad, and I won’t get to see them this year. Or maybe it’s the impending of pressure of living off-campus and having to pay rent. Maybe, just maybe, I’m frustrated with the dating culture and the “ring by spring” rhetoric that’ll be hanging over my head—Can I get a witness?
If you’re feeling the pressure of all these things, I get it. Coming back to school for many of us, isn’t all that easy. Many of us looked forward to the long break because we needed a reprieve, we needed rest. And coming back to this place where things might be entirely different than or all to similar to your experiences the previous year, can be disheartening depending on where you’re at.
So, I have a challenge for all you gritty girls (and guys too!): Think about what you want for yourself this semester. What goals do you want to reach? What kind of friendships do you want to develop? What do you want to see and do? Who do you want to be? Do you want to start a club? Go on a missions trip? Take a class outside your major? Experiment with your hair, makeup, or personal style? Think about what would make this year the perfect year for you. And then, just go for it.
Do the thing. Text the person. Ask the question. Don’t sit in the idleness of apprehension about the upcoming school year. Because nothing good grows there. Of course, we can pray over the issues that we cannot humanly change. But let us not forget the power God has already imbedded in us. The power to make good choices. To take care of ourselves. To take care of each other.
And love your brothers and sisters. Plan café dates, and Commons meetups. Do homework together and pray together. You’re not alone, so don’t pretend to be. Let’s not feign having-it-all-together. But let’s also not deny that things are hard. That being in this space can be hard.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, each other, and God. Let’s enter this school year exercising our giftings, building our resilience, opening ourselves to insights, and growing in our tenacity.