Growing up, I was a bit of an overachiever. My teachers branded me a life-long learner and I sort of took it to heart. School came naturally to me—I liked and welcomed the structure. I loved knowing what the next several months of my life would look like and that I was advancing in some ways, too: educationally, personally, emotionally. It was forward momentum in a controlled environment, and I lived for it.
When I got to college, I was really in my element academically. I loved the flexibility within the structure because it felt like the best of both worlds: I was more independent, but the next few years of my life weren’t a big question mark; I had a goal to meet and a path to meet it. So, it hit me hard when college ended and left me teetering on the end of post-grad life. I was brave for a whole year on the outside before I decided to head to grad school.
While I did wonder if I was returning to my comfort zone (and in some ways I was), it was ultimately a great decision. What was more, I knew what to expect for at least the next two years of my life. I was back in my happy place of taking interesting classes on cool subjects with like-minded people, and I was thriving. Of course, what turned into two and a half years went by pretty quickly and grad school ended as well. I’ve been on the “outside” now for four years, and though I’ve lost the comforting structure that school brings, its influence isn’t gone completely.
That regimented time is now ingrained in me, and even though I love the flexibility of my current post-grad freelancer life, I still live by the rhythms that formal education taught me. So, as the summer wanes and the fall approaches, I find myself looking forward to the second new year.
Of course, it isn’t the same. Nothing quite matches the start of a new school year where you’re faced with new things to learn and do, new people to meet and friends to make, and new experiences in an environment specially cultivated for all these things to happen relatively smoothly. I’ve lost the safety net of having a strong idea about what the next year of my life is going to look like. There are more question marks than there used to be, but there’s still something of a reset in the air and, if I can be honest, I need it. Every year I need it.
I need that second fresh start without all the pressure of New Year’s Eve (IYKYK). I need that time of transition where it feels like the whole world is moving into a new phase and a “new you” is encouraged and welcomed. September is my second January.
I celebrate this second new year in different ways. Sometimes I’ve treated myself to a new “back-to-school” wardrobe to help me feel a bit more refreshed and to remind myself that even when I don’t feel it, I am still *that* girl. Other times I’ve curated booklists for myself as pseudo coursework for the English classes I’m taking now only my heart. Still others I’ve planned a personal, day-long retreat where I can pray, reset, and think about the things I want and need for the next season. One year I completely rearranged my bedroom so I could create a writing space for my business.
Whatever way I celebrate, it’s something intentional to enrich me that only relies on me—not others—to make a positive change in my life. And, in a way, it is like going back to school. I learn new things about myself in this second new year. I become more of who I am and uncover parts of myself I didn’t know were there. In short, I grow.
How about you? Does a second fresh start sound like exactly what you need right now? What can you do to celebrate this second new year? If you decide to celebrate, let me know what you do!