First Day of School Feelings

written by Kat Bair
9 · 26 · 22

There’s something magical about the first few days and weeks of school. There is so much possibility in new beginnings, fresh starts, new opportunities, and new friends. It is a time where anything could happen and there is always the possibility of things being different, better, at least more interesting, this time around. 

As adults, there are few regular seasons of transition that come with so much promise. Our jobs stay pretty much the same (if we’re lucky) season to season, and our rhythms are fairly set. 

But there are certain moments – beginnings of new projects, introductions of new people – that give us a whiff of that new school supplies smell. We quickly let it fade, though. We adjust back to feeling “normal” as soon as we can, as though there was something dangerous in embracing novelty. We tease people as doe-eyed or shell-shocked when they have the audacity as to behave as though they are new at something, as though there were things in the world that they hadn’t experienced yet and they were actually excited for them. 

What if we were called to embrace a bit of the magic of beginnings, not as a flash of wonder, but as a lifestyle? Our God established a rhythm not just of creation, but of birth, life, death, and recreation. Seasons shift, flowers bloom, our world is not stagnant, and there is always something new we could be delighted in if we chose to be. 

What would it look like if we could embrace a sense of shameless wonder and enthusiasm at new things? How could it transform our work, our lives, and our faith? 

When we start new and innovative projects, we often get a hit of that first day of school excitement. We dream big dreams about what this project could mean, about what difference we could make. Within a few weeks or months, though, we find ourselves bogged down in more emails and spreadsheets and Tuesday morning drudgery. Our project didn’t become less exciting, its impact didn’t become less promising, we just abandoned the sense of wonder towards it. 

What could we do to keep that sense of wonder, to keep ourselves bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, for a bit longer?

I worked as one of an army of interns at a large human rights non-profit in college. The place was mind-blowing to me as a twenty-one-year-old. Filled with people in suits talking urgently, working hard, and doing work that was legitimately saving lives every single day. At one point I asked a mentor there why they had interns, it seemed like we didn’t contribute very much and took up a lot of staff members’ time with our questions and general incompetence. She told me that part of the reason they had interns was because, every few months, when a new batch came in – starry-eyed, hopeful, awe-struck by the amazing work the organization got to do, it reminded the rest of the staff that it really was amazing to do work like this, and it kept them going. 

The interns gave them regular injections of first-day-of-school energy. 

Are there ways we could continually invite in new people (particularly young people) into our work? Are there people around you that would embrace what you do with wonder, and encourage you to see it that way too?

It might not seem like it right away, but there are a lot of adults who work jobs they are bored with who would find the idea of getting to work on a project like yours, with people like you, energizing to an extent you can’t imagine. Maybe they love your church, have not gotten to work on a passion project before, have never been trusted with any creative responsibility, and you have the opportunity to offer that to them, and to inject yourself with some new energy (and help) in the process. The same goes for teenagers and young adults – many of them have been relegated to work that allows them no agency, decision making ability or even responsibilities. Work that you find exhausting, like responding to emails, setting meeting agendas, managing volunteers, may be empowering to them in a way it never could be to you. 

So as we start a new season, a new school year, a new cycle of all the things that define our rhythm of life together, look for those spaces of wonder at the newness, and instead of shoving it away, embrace it as long as you can. And when you feel yourself slipping into boredom, look for the people who could inject some fresh energy and invite them into the process. 

Its time we embrace the magic of beginnings, and trust that God’s cycle of creation and recreation is meant to live not just in the plants and soil, but in our very spirits. 

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Kat Bair

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