It’s always the same: What should I wear? Will they like me? Am I prepared? I hope I have the right materials? Those initial fears never subside. About one month before school starts, I start having the anxiety dreams. The classroom is crowded with too many students who are out of control. I feel so lost and insignificant. I try to get everyone to quiet down, but it’s useless. My biggest fear is not completing my education because it’s the only thing that has given my life a purpose. I wake up with my heart pounding. Within seconds, I realize it was only a dream, and I am hopeful again that the first day with go off without a hitch.
Each year, I get to school early to make sure I touch bases with my educational comrades — some are friends, some are not. We do the usual ”How was your summer?” dance, taking turns side-stepping the real gossip about who did what with whom. We wait until lunch when there is more time to get all the dirt. I walk into my classroom before others arrive to get a hit off the quiet before the storm. It doesn’t yet smell like sweat and cheap perfume. My hands are already starting to feel clammy. I take my usual seat in the front of the class. I hate to miss out on anything. I wonder if this is going to be a good year when I feel engaged in the learning process, or will it be a year when I’m running to catch up with myself. I exhale the breath I didn’t know I was holding.
Soon, the kids start arriving. I see many familiar faces and I am comforted by the fact that we are all starting the day together. Some kids are wearing expensive high-end designs, while others, like me, get their clothes from bargain basements and consignment stores. I like mixing my clothes into my own quirky outfits. It sets me apart. Everyone is talking loudly about their summers while taking out notebooks, pens, and smart phones. Last minute texts are going around the room. The bell rings. All eyes are on me. Then I begin, “Good morning, class. Before we start, please turn off your phones and put them away. Thank you. I believe this year is going to be a great one. Let’s start by introducing ourselves…”
Photo by kevin dooley