When I was a kid, I loved the first day of school. I prepped for weeks for the first day of a new year. I still, to this day, love the smell of school supplies. I cannot pass the back-to-school aisle in Target without browsing.
My summers were spent at camp in the Ozark mountains on Table Rock Lake for a month and then roller skating to the country club pool to splash the days away. By the time the new school year emerged, I was tan, tired and bored of watching “Days of our Lives.” A new school year was my reset button – more so than New Year’s Day or birthday’s – the advent of a new year in school meant getting to start over with a very clean, if not clear, slate. I was one of those lucky kids that didn’t move a single time during my school career. I knew at least half the kids in my class before the first bell and I knew where we’d all be hanging out. I rode the same bus for years, #98 driven by Ginger Hosick. Yeah, you read that I right. I still remember my bus driver’s name. I never really had any fear of starting a new year or a new building. For me, back to school was filled with hope and anticipation.
As I scrolled through the myriad of first day photos on Facebook today, I started to miss that “back to school reset button” feeling that existed every year. I asked the cosmic void why we don’t allow ourselves to reset anymore. To plop down a blank calendar filled with fresh lines to plan things, crack open crisp spiral bound notebooks just waiting to be filled with our thoughts, fears, promises, ideas and adventures. Why don’t I reach out to someone new and maybe find a new friend like I could so easily in middle school? How come I don’t try out a new schedule or try to learn a new skill like I did back then. Why am I so afraid to do those things now that I’m older? I did it every August for years and during a time in life when I was awkward and scared…. I still found ways to get better, be better and do better… and it always started in late August.
Why, now at forty, am I so afraid to push that reset button? You’d think I wouldn’t be scared since I did for so many falls in my youth. But here I am – too scared to hit reset. But I think I’ve landed on the reason why. I think.
You see, it is not like back then when I feared looking foolish in front of people. Now, it’s the fear of disappointment. That – what if I can’t master that new skill, what if I fail at that new job, what if that guy I like doesn’t like me back – feeling. The trouble with it is that I’ve learned that I won’t be great at everything I try. Which means that I now know exactly how it feels to fail.
So I hide away from the reset button because I’m scared to hurt. Because I’m scared that I’ll open that crisp, clean spiral notebook and turn to page one but have nothing to fill the pages with – no adventures, no dreams, no romance. So instead, I leave that notebook closed. Because nothing is better than something bad. Right?
But what if I did hit reset. If I took the things I learned before and built on them while giving myself a clean slate. Forgave myself for my past failures and mistakes. Just put on a brand-new outfit, picked up my brand-new backpack, and took one step towards new goals.
Maybe I’ll do just that. Starting today I forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Starting today I’ll try to find new things to learn. I got myself a new blank calendar and some fresh spiral notebooks. Today, I am hitting the reset button. I guess I should ask Big Sara to take a picture of me in the front yard.