Do you hear that? It’s the nostalgic sound of school bells ringing in the distance, a sound that dances in my head when the mornings get crisp and Target starts rolling out the back-to-school marketing. It’s been a long time since I walked through a high school hallway, but when early September rolls around, all I want to do is go back to school and start fresh.
While the entire concept of school has been flipped on its head by this wild year we’re living in, what with kids attending class via Zoom and hardworking teachers and school staff making it work in uncharted territory, there’s still something about the idea of heading back to class that makes the entire month of September feel like a time for renewal. Remember how you thought that new hairstyle or pair of shoes was going to make that year yours, simply because you felt like a newer, better version of your old self? These fun activities will make it feel like you’re headed to class, even when the days of school books, backpacks, and yellow buses are long gone.
While the entire concept of school has been flipped on its head by this wild year we’re living in . . . there’s still something about the idea of heading back to class that makes the entire month of September feel like a time for renewal.
Remember when Kathleen Kelly talks about giving NY152 (AKA Joe Fox) a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils in You’ve Got Mail? That’s how I feel when September shows up—it’s time to buy school supplies! There’s no official list telling you how many spiral notebooks, No. 2 pencils, or Kleenex boxes you need, so you’ve got permission to buy whatever strikes your fancy, whether it’s a fresh new planner full of possibilities (even in the unique world of 2020), a glamorous pen (it’s a thing), or a stack of new notebooks for your grown-up world of virtual meetings and home improvement projects.
Your social calendar is probably a bit lighter than normal, so why not take the time to finally start learning Chinese or French? Duolingo exists for this exact purpose; you can skip the classroom setting and learn where and when you want. Take a modern version of art class with Skillshare or give podcast fave The Great Courses Plus a try. A whole world of learning is literally at your fingertips thanks to the internet.
Remember how you used to sit in class and make lists about what you wanted in a significant other or how you were going to act in college? Do that, but make it relevant to your life now! Maybe you’re setting professional goals, or perhaps you’ve got important personal life changes on the horizon. There’s nothing more satisfying than making a list and checking it off, even when it isn’t about what you’re going to wear to the homecoming dance.
I used to spend hours leafing through YM and Seventeen’s back to school issues with my friends, picking out the all-important school year wardrobe and then heading to the mall for a small town teenager’s version of a shopping spree. Part of the fun of the first day of school was wearing something brand new, purchased solely for the occasion. It was always a little uncomfortable, a little too perfect, but special just the same. On my last first day of school, I wore a dark teal Gap blazer with a matching Gap plaid tank and a miniskirt, and while it was impractical for the early fall heat, I felt like that outfit was marking the day as something important, the first phase of a new life.
So buy the dress you’ve been lusting over, a fresh pair of sneakers, or a cute new blouse. Pick a day as your “first day of school” and snap a pic in said outfit. You can even post it alongside all the cute pics of your friends’ kids on their first day of school, or throw your own version of picture day. (Bonus points if you get the cool neon background! You ‘90s kids know what I’m talking about.)
One of my best friends, an English teacher, has said that nothing means as much to him as when former students reach out to let him know how they’re doing or to say thanks. Is your favorite teacher on your mind even years after you’ve left their classroom? Look them up and send them an email letting them know you’re thinking of them, simple as that. You’ll get to take a trip down memory lane and they’ll feel the love even via a computer screen—something we all need a little more of right now.
Kara Nesvig grew up on a sugar beet farm in rural North Dakota and pretended to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz for about three full years. Things haven’t changed much, except she now lives in an adorable ’20s house in St. Paul with her husband, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dandelion and many, many pairs of shoes. Kara is a voracious reader, Britney Spears superfan and copywriter — in that order.
BY Kara Nesvig - September 6, 2020
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.