For all the kiddos heading back to school, this post is for you. Feel those butterflies in your stomach? Use them. Those butterflies are energy just waiting to be applied. You can put them to good work today as you brave the ‘first day’ back to school. New teachers. New rules. New clothes. New locker, maybe. New friends. New routines. New clubs. New stresses. New problems. New ideas. New lessons. New subjects. New opportunities. New anxiety. New drama. New joys. New loves. New music. New, new, new. Those butterflies are here for the ‘new’ things. Use them.
This year, there will be all kinds of new things and people and moments. Some of you are scared and unsure of yourselves and are going to press yourselves into the background of every moment today, hoping no one sees you. Some of you might be excited and ready for the next adventure, confident in knowing that you belong, that you have something to offer. Some of you are a mix of both of these and will have moments of pure confidence and moments of pure terror, all in the same day. That’s okay. The truth is… every single person around you is experiencing varying degrees of the same emotions. The same fears, the same anxiety, the same nervousness. They are experiencing moments of joy and excitement too. Just like you.
They have their own lil pack of butterflies flitting around in their bellies. Just like you.
Here is my ‘back to school’ advice. Tell those butterflies what you want to do this year. Tell them all about how you want to grow this year. Tell them what you are afraid of and what you need their help with… and then let ‘em loose. Those butterflies are not working against you. They’re waiting for you to put them to work FOR YOU. You see, everyone has them. A unique little pack of butterflies that show up in the tummy at various times, making us hyper aware of the moment, calling attention to the moment’s significance. When those lil butterflies show up, pay attention. Put them to work for you. They are yours and they will do what you tell them to do.
When you have to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, tell your butterflies to make your voice strong.
When you are called on to answer a question, tell your butterflies to make your mind clear.
When you see that pretty girl you thought about all summer, tell your butterflies to help your legs to walk steady
and your heart to beat steady and your hands to wave…steady.
When you meet the teacher everyone complained about last year, tell your butterflies to beat their wing strong and sure.
Tell them to give you confidence to be yourself, despite the rumors you’ve heard about Mr. Grumpy Pants.
When you see the mean kid, your nemesis, the one you dread seeing every year, get your butterflies to settle down.
Tell them to be calm and quiet. Tell them they are not to feed your fears.
Remind the butterflies that they are in a new year, a new moment, a new opportunity, and there is no room for drama.
My hope for you this year, aMazing student, is that you will see yourself with kinder eyes. You will allow yourself to see all of your potential and forgive yourself all of your mistakes. You will embrace ‘new’ as exciting and challenging, not scary and threatening. I hope you will look for the lonely and be a friend. I hope you will seek out ways to build people up and resist the urge to tear people down to make yourself feel better. (The truth is that it only makes you feel worse.) I hope you will breathe when you feel anxious, ask for help when you feel lost, and surround yourself with real people striving for the same goals.
There are big moments heading your way. Moments that are racing for you, tumbling and tripping over other moments to get to you. There are awesome moments, big and small. And challenging moments, hard and intimidating. I am hoping that you put your butterflies to good use, and remember that you are bigger than the moment you are in. Bigger. Stronger. More real. The moments will keep tumbling towards and past you, over and thru you. If you feel afraid, stand up. If you feel anxious, breathe. If you think you cannot go on, ask for help.
You can do this. You can be YOU and thrive. You can, you can, you can.
I have no back to school picture to share this year. I never will again. Today would have been Mason’s first day of his Senior year. Class of 2017. He would have been 17 now, driving, dating, working. Here is one of my fave pics…
I wish he was here. I cannot stand it that he is not. I am sick to my stomach and my heart weighs heavy like a stone in my chest. My butterflies feel like sharp daggers trying to pierce my skin from the inside, trying to break free, to make me explode. They’ve truly lost their little butterfly minds… Time to reel them in. I am going to put them to work for me today. I am going to ask those butterflies to propel me forward. They are going to give me courage to face the day, give me a strong and steady heartbeat to see others and be a friend, and they are going to settle themselves right down and be a source of comfort to me as I brave the day. A new day is coming and I want to see it.
Sending out so much love to every single student today. A new day is coming and I want you to see it. My back to school message for you:
You can do this. You can be YOU and thrive.
You can, you can, you absolutely can.
It’s just me. Last ‘first day of school’ pic for this mama. August 2012.