back to school anxiety

The beginning of a new school year brings back tidal waves of feelings for yours truly.

Back in the day, around mid-August I would start to get really excited for Fall.  More specifically the high school and college days when I was becoming more conscious of the innate female devotion to the season between summer and winter. 💁 Well that and it was just always my favorite season.  But anyway, in life, in order to experience something you’re excited about, you often have to jump an uncomfortable hurdle or two before you get there.  Gotta earn it, you know.  My hurdle in particular was back to school.

I wasn’t especially outgoing in high school.  Not only was I shy, but I think it was probably my peak period of insecurity.  Nothing like being uncomfortably aware of every pimple on your face to make a teenaged girl even less outgoing than she already wasn’t.  That, and I didn’t have One Tree Hill at my disposal, which is basically a handbook for how to be comfortable with who you are.

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High school Sam.  Throwing it way back, folks. Woof. 😂 Yay! Camera flash! Said no one.
Present(ish) day Sam. You could say I’m a little more comfortable with myself (and eyebrow tweezers) nowadays. 😂

Therefore, going back to school was difficult for me every year.  Once I started college, I felt more like an adult, I knew (a little too well) that if I really wasn’t feeling it that day, no one was forcing me to go.  But that didn’t stop me from being nervous and willing to give anything to skip over the first day and just be adjusted to this new way of life.

So, while the most outstanding thought I have re: back to school time of year is “thank you sweet baby Jesus for me never having to do that ever again,”  I also really, really understand the feeling of dread that some kids may also feel before that first day.  Where it’s annoying & frustrating that other people are actually looking forward to and are excited about it while you’re sitting at home trying to talk yourself out of it.  It was something I never understood, and I wanted nothing more than to be like that, and have that daunting feeling in the back of my mind and the pit of my stomach go away.  To not sit there the weekend before the first day and know that it was “the last weekend” before school started.  And then again the day before, where the hours would fly by, but I wouldn’t get much out of the last day of summer because I was so preoccupied with worrying, and doing that whole “this time tomorrow I’ll be in a class full of people I don’t know” thing.  (Seriously, you’d think I was going to my death bed.)

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oh gawd. senior prom with a childhood friend. there is so much unattractive camera flash in this post.
wedding day. 2015. how am I suddenly old enough for this?

If you’re feeling that way, I promise you, you’re not the only one.  And I also promise it will be okay.  The worst part, quite frankly, is the uncertainty.  Anything you conjure up in your head, I guarantee you, is 100x worse than what it will actually be like.  I still experience slight dread at the thought of doing certain things, which I’ve finally admitted to myself may be a slight case of anxiety.  Even some photography jobs rocket me back to that “first day of school” feeling.  That thought in your head where, if the client were to call you and cancel a couple hours before the session, it would be just about the greatest news you ever received.  I get it.  I truly get it.

Now at 27 I kind of look back and sometimes wish I could go back to those carefree days of going to and from school, and that being my biggest “obstacle” in life at the time.  I say this, a. because I don’t have to do it anymore.  And b. because the years after high school really and truly do start to fly right by before you even know it, and life never actually gets any easier.  It just looks easier for adults, because we are trying to make it look that way, while little do we know, we are all silently struggling to get our shit together.

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high school graduation (2008) feels like yesterday
& then suddenly here’s me & my husband in 2015.

So, while it’s really hard, and actually feels impossible, no matter how nervous you may be, try your best to soak up the experience.  At the end of everything that’s ever made me nervous or anxious, is me wishing I hadn’t wasted the time before it happened dreading the event and worrying that I’ll be uncomfortable.  It really does take away from the actual experience, and there is always that comment from someone saying, “see? That wasn’t so bad, was it?” and reminding you that you were being so dramatic beforehand.  They don’t mean anything by it, of course.  But nobody likes the reminder that they were overreacting.

So just trust me on this one.  School is hard.  But life is harder.  Enjoy this period in life while you have it.  And don’t worry about things like finding your way, or having no friends, or missing home, or suddenly being an adult.  You’re not alone, there will always be someone to help you.  Friends?  You don’t know it yet, but someone you’re going to meet is going to be one of your best friends.  He or she may even end up standing up with you on the day you get married.  Hell, it may be the person you marry.  And while college and living away from home is a step toward adulthood, don’t worry, your parents are still more or less behind the wheel of this vehicle, and you can always always always go home.

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ah, a 2007 gem. Is the peace sign still cool?
2016 business convention with friends

To all the freshmen out there, whether it be high school or college, I hope you have a relaxed first day, and an amazing school year!  And to those who are maybe taking a gap year, or trying to figure out what you’re doing, or that college isn’t for you?  I understand that too.  It wasn’t for me, and I never even finished.  And that’s okay too, because it isn’t for everyone.

Not everyone is looking for a career.  As for me, I was looking to own my own business, and that’s what I am doing now.  (And to those of you with entrepreneur ambitions but don’t know where to start or what you can offer?  Please reach out, because there are so many options I have stumbled upon!)  People won’t tell you this, but there aren’t enough college classes in the world to teach me what I have learned over the last year or so just by reading and listening to successful people before me talk about how they got to where they are.  There is no one right way to succeed in life.  Everyone has their own definition of success, and their own route to achieve it, and don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you’re wrong for not being just like everyone else. 💖

(Sorry for the horrific photographical inconsistencies… We were pretty deep in the archives of low quality Facebook profile photos for the “thens” … luckily the “nows” are a little more advanced. 😂)

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