August 14, 2015

Just be like everybody else. Or maybe not.

This time of year is bittersweet. Even though summer doesn't officially come to a halt for some time, when the kiddos go back to school, it feels like they not only take with them every drop of summer goodness but truly usher in the beginning of fall (minus the fall temperatures that are but a wish our sweating hearts make every waking moment of the day).

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.