I don't have kids, but I so enjoy seeing all the back-to-school photos that my momma friends are posting right now. Earnest little faces with some type of homemade sign (I guess that's a thing) declaring what grade they are set to begin. Backpacks bigger than they are. Snaggle-tooth grins.
I'm 33 (33!) which means I've lived at least 1/3 of my life (I mean, that is if I were lucky enough to live to be 100) and yet this time of year still makes me feel like I'm about 11. I remember the back-to-school clothes shopping...pennies pinched tight hunting for big bargains. And I remember the first day of school, usually a 10 a.m. dismissal where we'd find out who our teacher was, meet him or her and get our school supply list for the year.
I thought my school supply list was like the Bible. Meaning that I did not want to deviate from its requirements in any way. That's just the kind of kid I was. I can remember arguing with my mom in the aisle at Wal-Mart, that "yes it did matter if my notebook paper was wide-rule and no I didn't care if college-rule was cheaper."
I was so afraid of standing out or making waves. I wanted my school supplies to be just like everyone else's. If a teacher stipulated that we needed 100 3x5 notecards, I counted them out exactly. If we were supposed to have a particular kind of colored pencil or marker for science, I wouldn't settle for anything except the exact one.
I think I spent a great deal of my childhood worrying that I was going to be on the outside of something and maybe having the same school supplies as everyone else was a way to ward against this?
There are still ways that I fall into this trap of sameness. Maybe it brings a small bit of safety with it because it doesn't require us to think creatively. Or maybe it's because it allows us to float along on auto-pilot.
My mom posted some meme on Facebook today and tagged me (thanks momma!) in it. It said:
"No one is you, and that is your power."
I believe this is true for all of us. Each so unique, so carefully woven together. And all of us with our stories, our triumphs and struggles. I hope the older I get, the less I want to be just like everybody else. But we're all connected. And that's pretty good too.