Welcome to __________ Your first day back? Your first job? Your first day of grad school? August is a time for a whole lot of ‘going back to school,’ new jobs and other ‘back tos’ but remember to not live in the past; there are greater things ahead of you than behind you.
Back a couple years ago I got a phone call from a young girl who was ‘afraid to start high school.’ In a week from the call it would be her first day and she wasn’t sure what to expect, she was nervous whether she’d make friends and whether or not she’d fit in. We assured her she would be okay and not to take the first day like the rest of the school year; take it day by day and focus on your classes, it’ll relieve some of the social anxiety. There have been so many people, including myself, who have been scared to start something new. Jumping into something unknown can be daunting and terrifying but you have to remember why you’re there and remember that there are others on the same boat as you and have survived many times before. It will be okay and if it isn’t, find something that makes you feel more at ease; a mentor, a sport, a club, a parent, a friend, a positive outlet to let out your fear and worries. Where you spend your energy will matter although it doesn’t seem like it now, it will be how you learn to cope with fears and anxieties down the road and can help you get the support you need for other aspects in life such as your career. I say this because many clubs and sports I thought I was doing as ‘an escape’ later became things I learned from and still use even today in my career; what you learn and how you spend your energy now does matter.
And on fitting in, you don’t have to, you’ll fit in best if you find your own flow. When you find what interests you and when you find a sense of strength within yourself, you’ll naturally gravitate to who and where you need to be. If you try so hard to fit in somewhere that you know in your gut you don’t belong or feel belittled, you really aren’t helping anyone, especially not yourself because you’re ridding yourself and others who love you of your true joy and highest potential. So to the girl who is starting high school, starting college, starting life, don’t be worried if you feel like you’re the only one who is scared; no matter what age you are, starting new can be scary. Try things and try to find your own flow, find your own rules. Reach for where you feel you belong and don’t hesitate to join clubs, and take on jobs and roles that fit your highest and happiest self. If it doesn’t fit you, keep searching, it’s only the beginning and you have time to wiggle and try lots of hats. Don’t be stuck in the past and don’t get bogged down by the feelings of now. If you keep going and stay in the present you’ll figure out how to continuously work towards what you want. When I got to college I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect and my experience was a total 360 of what I thought it was going to be and I’m glad it was, it turned out way better than what I expected even though it was extremely challenging and difficult.
If you work hard to be where you want to be, you’ll get where you need to be. If you sit and ‘think about how great it will be’ you’ll be stuck. If your friends don’t make you feel happy, if your job makes you miserable, not once in a while, but everyday, rethink where you’re at and where you want to be and if you’re just starting school, know this is the best time to experiment and go after what interests you. If you’re thinking about running for student government or trying the tennis team, just try it, even if you fail, you will have succeeded because 1) you tried and 2) you now know where to go and what to do next because the truth is, life is full of disappointments but if you learn to deal with the setbacks, you’ll learn how to keep going no matter how great the challenge.
In everything you do, remember the long term goal. Don’t let the shortcomings and setbacks keep you lost in today. Push through and remember the larger goal in mind, what do you want in 10 years? 5 years? Push through, you aren’t anything that sets you back, those are merely outside forces that will come and go, focus on the road, not the walls and keep going. This month is yours, try things, explore your interests and don’t be afraid to make a mistake or two; it’s how you learn. With that I leave you with this:
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
― J.K. Rowling