Do you remember your very first day of school?
I’m sure I don’t, but I’m equally certain that it was not a big deal to me. My teacher was my next door neighbour and I knew my five grade-primary classmates already. The bus would have picked me up at 8:30AM, and dropped me off at home by 2:30PM. Twenty-odd kids from ages five to twelve, split between two classrooms attended that little school and I knew them all.
It wasn’t until grade five when I switched schools that things got scary. New people, cliques, popular kids. These were the things of fairy tale, not my reality. On the hour long bus ride to and from school I learned about the hierarchy of bus seats, how to write neatly going over bumps and the importance of flopping your backpack on the seat next to you if you wanted to be alone. I was twelve years old before I knew what a bully really was, but I survived it with plenty of tears and broken hearts, laughter and friendships along the way.
Yesterday, I had my first day of school (again). It’s the third time I’ve had a first day at a new school since the terrifying experience as a twelve-year-old. The only thing that’s changed is my pants size and my age, really. And my major, from journalism to disabilites and back to public relations. It might even be more terrifying than it was then. I planned my outfit for two days, touched up my makeup in the parking lot, popped a mint in my mouth in the hallway and plastered that fake-confident smile we all have when we feel like we’re going to puke but need to look cool. My dad came in to check it out too, which was a delectable cross between mortifying and wonderful. At least if I had passed out, someone would have been there. Besides, no one saw us.
Nine other women sat in the Student Lounge awaiting the commencement of Orientation. Some looked to be about my age, two were a fair bit older, and some looked to be a fair but younger than I. Nobody said anything. I smiled and said hello, but no one responded. So there we sat in silence, ten grown women awkwardly looking around at one another, casually picking up our class schedule from time to time and looking at it with little interest. Finally, we were rescued by the Co-President of the college. She was perky and funny and talked to us like we were little kids. It was great. We were given a tour of the campus (which, by the way, is GORGEOUS) and handed a “free” backpack. When I jokingly pointed out that it was the most expensive backpack I’d ever owned, one girl frowned at me either because she thought I was an idiot or she didn’t get the joke.
I loved the faculty and while I’d really like to make friends, it’s not about making friends as much as about making myself. I’m happily pursuing a long-term relationship with me, my education, talents, dreams and every other aspect of what’s yet to come. So far, I’ve been hitting it off pretty well. I might be bashful and trembling now, but pretty soon I’ll be galloping through the paces.