As I've mentioned many times before, growing up as the Colonel's Daughter was no walk in the park. I'm not complaining entirely.....it had its perks. But moving every year of my life before turning eighteen, I'm realizing now, was a lot harder than it seemed at the time. Finding your way through the maze of your teenage years is just not a pretty transition for most of us. Not all of us are part of the "it" clique. Combine that with being the New Girl every year? Not. Fun. At. All.
One of the best "tricks" I learned from having to endure the Groundhog Day effect of that first day of school over and over was sucking it up and being the best chameleon I could be. Here was my ritual for every first day of school:
- Sit on counter in kitchen of new house sobbing and begging my mother not to make me go.
- Putting on a happy face and acting like I hadn't a care in the world as I navigated a new school, new classes, new faces, new cliques (none of which I belonged to).
- Sitting in stall in girls bathroom eating my lunch (the only respite of peace during the day).
- Going home (hopefully unscathed) on bus full of people I don't know and who want nothing to do with the New Girl. (*was particularly fun my senior year with no driver's license)
One of my favorite bloggers is Emily. I read this post and it whiplashed me back to every single memory of every single first day of school. Not belonging. Feeling left out. It really resonated with me because it was exactly how I have been feeling. Left out. I have so much empathy for those that are struggling. Those that are grieving. Those that are trying to find their way. With careers. With relationships. With just surviving.
It's a lot easier to just laugh off the cruelty of childhood and teenage years but when you witness it in our current day lives, no matter what age, it's shocking.
This Fall, when I send my firstborn off to Kindergarten, I'm sure the memory of my first days of school will creep in and nestle in the pit of my stomach like a heavy, cold stone. And when the Mean Girls she will most certainly encounter snub her, I will be there. Reliving it all. Doing my best to help her along the way. All the while teaching her that they really don't mean to hurt her feelings and reminding myself the same thing.