Whether I’m 5 or 23, the first day of school has also inspired the same reaction: high levels of excitement mixed with a high level of anxiety with a dash each of procrastination and stress.
On the first day of second grade, I distinctly remember walking down the hallway and having to look to figure out which classroom door had an apple with your name on it. This was how we figured out what class we were in each year, so I knew the drill. But this particular year I had a hard time locating my apple. Little 8 year old me started to panic. Did they forget about me? Am I at the right doors? Does this mean I’m still in first grade?! Luckily, my teacher Ms. Panfile was waiting right next to the door to show me where I was suppossed to go.
Starting grad school at a new university feels a lot like looking for your apple, except there are no Ms. Panfile’s to guide you. Instead, you’re sharing the hallways with upperclassmen who know exactly where each class on their schedule is. They are totally ambivalent to you and your struggle, even as you take your fourth lap around the floor desperate to find 316. Even the freshman got to move in a week ago and participate in orientation and a whole line-up of events to make them feel more comfortable. Now, they move in giant clumps of 10-15 and herd the rest of us off the sidewalk to avoid being trampled.
After being out of school for a year, I feel like my brain has forgotten some of the rougher details and romanticized the whole thing. I forgot what it was like to have a 10+ minute walk across campus in the rain and how sometimes you can forget where you parked your car amongst a giant lot of other cars. I forgot how exhausting it is to start your day at 6:00am and not get home until almost 11:00pm. And the stress! How could I forget about the stress? As I was transcribing all my due dates into my brand new planner, I could actually feel my blood pressure rising a bit. Today was only my second day and I’m pretty sure I’m already behind somehow.
But going back to school hasn’t been all bad. Just as I was about to hit full panic mood entering my first class, I noticed a familiar face from DeSales and I’ve never been so happy to see an acquaintance in my entire life. I also re-learned how to eat an entire meal in less than ten minutes, which is a skill I’ve been meaning to practice.
In all serious though, and despite the many hours of anxiety I’ve experienced in the past 48 hours, there is nothing quite so magical for me as a first day of school. Aside from my 4 years in undergrad when I was dutifully partying, the night before school starts has been a night when I stayed up way too late because the excitement and anticipation kept my mind whirling. And yes, these are the moments when I realize just how much of a nerd I am, but I will probably never stop being excited about the possibilities that await me in the classroom.
On that note, it’s time for this exhausted scholar to go to bed and say a prayer that my 5:30 alarm will actually wake me up. And Ms. Panfile, if you’re reading this somehow and are free next Tuesday, I never did find room 316.