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The Start of New Beginnings

"No matter how hard the past is,you can always begin again."

Summer of 2021 was fun, but it’s sadly coming to an end. For a lot of us, that means going back to school. You can say you aren’t nervous, but I think we both know every teen in the world right now is having some sort of anxiety about starting a new school year. How do we start school again after such a relaxing and unstructured summer though? Is a change in routine even possible without anxiety?

It’s hard to start school again each year for many of us. I know I hate a change in routine (or just change in general.) My parents have started back to work, which means I’m home alone all week. That’s already a significant change from what I’ve been doing all summer, with my parents and I on summer break together. At first, I was panicked. I tend to get very in my head when I’m alone, so of course I got myself very amped up about the new school year and the changes that come with it. It took a couple days to adjust to my parents leaving, but I successfully did so. I like to think about it as a practice run for going back to school. A little bit of change now, a bigger one next week. In order to do this, I really had to stop looking at change as a horrible thing that’s trying to ruin my life. Change can be our very best friend if we allow it to. Without change, I’d still be losing the battle to OCD and living life in fear. I changed my behavior which led to more happiness, so that must mean that a change in routine can as well. I had to get in the mindset that going back to school is going to be a fun and new experience. I mean, a new grade, a new school in a new town? I’m not going to tell myself that I’m anxious, but instead that I’m excited, because I am. I keep having to remind myself when the wave of anxiety shows up that I probably would get sick of the same routine anyways, so why not change it up before it gets to be a bad thing? For me, switching up my thinking, even as little as a thought like that, can really alter my feelings towards the whole situation. If you want this to be a good school year, you have to have the right intentions and come into it knowing that YOU’RE the boss of how this year goes.

Sometimes we don’t want to go back to things because we may need a change. Like me for instance. I’ve gone to a public school in a small town for my whole life, and didn’t enjoy a second of it. The friend dynamics, the academics, the lack of diversity, it was all just too small for me. I’ve always been too nervous to try a new school, even being as miserable as I’ve been (fear of change. See?) but this year I decided to finally try something new. I switched to a project-based charter school. Here, I don’t have to wait for everyone to catch up with me in academics or worry about fitting into the same groups of friends. Everyone that got into this school loves the outdoors, loves learning, and public school didn’t work out for them. All things that relate to me! If you feel there’s a better option for you out there, don’t be afraid to make the change.

I think many of us don’t like to go back to school because of past memories or a feeling around school. People have bad experiences and sometimes overall a bad feeling towards school because of these events. Going from being able to be one on one with a friend whenever you please to mixing with a whole group of friends can be very anxiety provoking for some. Social

anxiety is difficult and definitely something that deserves to be acknowledged about yourself. This is where handy dandy backup plans can come into play. Accommodating for your own needs should be your number one priority, so really try to think ahead on how you could achieve that. Yes, hiding in the bathroom stall until you feel better might feel like a solid plan, but learning from past experiences, it isn’t. Sometimes making the teacher aware of your feelings and needs really is worth it. If you work out a plan with someone you trust, then you’ll have a better overall experience with school. It could be as simple as permission for a five minute call with mom or getting to read your book. There are other social parts that come into play though. I’ve ALWAYS had struggles with friend dynamics. A lot of us don’t necessarily have a “best friend” and rather have lots of friends. Best friends are always the first to pair up, so where does that leave the rest of us? For me, it left me alone. There simply weren’t enough girls in the class that didn’t have a bestie for me to be included in anything. If you want to make a change in that this year, then change it. I changed schools to find more friends, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that extreme. It could be as simple as getting to know other people that might possibly be out of your friend group or joining a new club or sports team. If you aren’t clicking with the people at school but don’t want to switch, you could try joining a group elsewhere. There are lots of clubs and programs out there for ALL ages, so don’t limit yourself to just your school and grade.

It’s classic for students not to want to go to school because of something stupid you did over the summer or last year. It happens, we make mistakes. You might’ve posted a little bit too much over the summer and feel embarrassed to go back to school (I know I’ve been there) or something as uncontrollable as struggling with a mental illness during the school year and had others notice (been there too). Either way, it’s fixable. If you did something you regret involving friends this past summer or school year, think of this as your chance to start fresh. Why did you choose those actions? You might’ve been anxious to fit in or you were sad that they made the soccer team and you didn’t so you talked about them behind their back. It was a mean thing to do, but it can be forgiven. Rather than using this school year as a chance to make yourself feel bad and go deeper and deeper into friend drama, use this as an opportunity to start again. Try to remember what you might’ve been feeling. Rather than being angry about what you might’ve done, acknowledge the painful feelings that led to those actions. Take the time to be gentle and understanding to your past self, even if your actions were embarrassing. You now know what to do differently this year, and you know that you’re going to make those changes! The first couple weeks of something is always challenging, but like the saying, it takes 21 days to make a habit. My point? Give it time. Be confident that with time, you WILL adjust and anxiety will decrease.It happens every year, so why would that change this year? You’ll get into your groove.

Getting back out into the world feels scary, but it doesn’t need to BE scary. It comes up often in life with new careers, clubs, classes, and so much more! This year is a great exposure for your bright future, so hold on! You’re determined and you’ve grown from last school year, just like everyone else. I hope that this post helped you see the beauty in change and even a new school year! If you found this post helpful or anxiety relieving, subscribe and share with a friend! I’m going to start writing more often, so stay tuned for my next post!

By: Arden Nickerson

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