Ahh… the end of summer and the start of a new school year. For so many people, this often pulls up feelings of dread. But for nerds like me… it made me excited. Fresh school supplies and new outfits to show off. And as I entered my junior year of high school, I was excited to go back to school to simply learn (told you I was nerdy). Now that I am out of school, I’m a little jealous. Even watching my fiancé prep for his final year, I can’t help but wish I was the one getting new textbooks. There’s such a sense of panic and dread for so many people this year. I have detected it in my own home, with my friends who are educators, and I’ve seen it all over social media. Although having homework can be incredibly daunting, there is something so refreshing about being able to start something new.

“A fresh start.” That’s a phrase we hear a lot. It sounds great. It sounds promising. We toss it around a lot every August and every January… the start of a new school or calendar year. Both are equally exciting or unnerving depending on what stage of life you’re in. It’s easy to make promises to yourself of what the school year will hold. You never can fully understand what’s going to happen, but telling yourself to be kinder to others, work out more, study harder… those are all things you can control.

Last school year, I was preparing to end my undergrad career. I realized that I had spent the majority of college being a worker bee and had forgotten to make connections with the students around me. My school year resolution? Make a connection with at least one person in every class I was in. I had conversations with the people around me, took up a part-time job on campus, and even spent my lunch breaks outside of my car. I was able to make deep enough connections, that people were asking me positive questions about my faith, wanting to know more about my life. One girl even asked, “Are you so happy all the time because of God?” Even my professors noticed, calling me a “radiant student.”

I’m not bragging on myself… it’s sad that it took me three years of college to finally decide to actually try in the last four months. Can you imagine if I had decided to be friendly and talkative to people my entire college career!? All I did was strike up conversations with people and refuse to be the quiet girl in the corner! However, it’s always easier said than done. You can easily commit yourself to four months… nine, though, can be a little trying. As disciples of Christ, we are called to be friendly, loving people. This was something I had literally failed on for three years because I was so worried about my current job, internship, or getting the highest grade in the class. Sure, those things were important, but I truly regret the time I missed getting to know the amazing people on my campus.

As you enter into your school year (or final semester), challenge yourself to do something you’ve been wishing you had done all along. Make a new friend in every class. Join that club you were too afraid to try out for. Take up a sport. Find your passion and the people to be passionate about and love them deeply. Whether you’re in high school, college, or you’re an educator (or a loving parent who is READY to get those kids back to school), let the feeling of “new” inspire you, inspire your classmates, and inspire your students.

Starting fresh can be so difficult, but don’t let it cause panic or negative feelings. Let the anxiety of a new school year wash away as you make your promise to yourself of what new and inspiring thing you are going to take on this year. Don’t let this be just another school year. Let this year be the year you finally got to start off on the right foot.

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