Maybe your family has been on one place, but you know this is the last year. That move is right around the corner. Every moment is a beginning and an ending—the last first day of school, the last fall, the last festival… And you still don’t know what comes next.
Maybe you’re preparing for your first week in the classroom as a student or a teacher. Maybe you aren’t the one in the classroom at all—maybe it’s your spouse. Suddenly there is paper everywhere, whether it’s papers to grade or assignments to read… or papers that aren’t even yours, but that you can’t throw away on the off-chance that they might be important sometime before December.
Maybe you have no real ties to school at all, aside from cheering on your alma mater. Maybe you’ve noticed that your commute is twice as long thanks to morning drop off, or that the parking has disappeared in your college town. Your morning routine is no longer school-proof.
Maybe you’re wondering if it’s time to go back to school—if you’re meant to be doing something else. Maybe this is the year you’re going to apply.
No matter who you are, it seems like new beginnings are around every corner.
When it comes to the beginning, there’s an impulse to believe that everything hinges on that first day or that first week.
Before the beginning officially begins, we can imagine ourselves conquering a to-do list a mile long, embracing challenges with nonchalance, and exceeding even our own high expectations.
We’ll get out the door on time. We’ll have breakfast, make polite conversation after only two sips of coffee, and know exactly where we’re going. We’ll get to know the new names and faces in record time, we’ll make friends quickly, and the homework will practically do itself. The kids in our lives will remember their socks and shoes before getting in the car, will eagerly share the highs and lows of their first day, and everything will fall into place.
These things will happen … just maybe not all at once.
If I’ve learned anything from my years of back to school, it’s that back to school is a process, not a destination.
Your back to school journey won’t look like your civilian counterparts, whether you’re a parent, a student, a teacher, a spouse, or a student-in-the-making. So, don’t hold yourself to the standard of what things “should” be like.
Instead, know that things are they way they are in part because you’re living this military life.
Sometimes military life comes with compensations, and sometimes it comes with challenges that you didn’t even know to expect. Give yourself room for those surprises, the good and the bad, and give yourself credit for rising up to meet them.
Truth be told, the first six weeks of any new beginning are more like an experiment than a check off list. Some things will work, and some things will not. There are successes (thank goodness), but no failures—just moments you know you’d rather not repeat.
As you make your way through the first six weeks of this new year, whatever your role, know that we’re cheering you on (and no, we aren’t going to ask you to make any treats for the bake sale).
Story by Emilie Duck