That Weird Back-To School Feeling

Does anybody else have that weird “first day of school” feeling this time of year, even though your school days are far behind you? For 21 years (preschool through law school), my year began in September. That’s when you’d get a fresh start with new classes, new classmates, and a new identity. Seriously — the identity of “third grader” felt completely different from “second grader.” My birthday is within the first weeks of school, so September truly is when I start a new year of life. With leaves getting yellower and my tomato plants finishing up for the year (read: I killed them), even nature agrees that the old year is ending. But when you pair all of this with the fact that you’re still in the same job, with the same schedule, wearing the same clothes, that “back to school” feeling is really confusing. I think there are some ways to take advantage of it:


Like a Blackberry for babies of the 80s.

One of the best parts of the new school year was getting your new school supplies, filling out your school-issued agenda, and swearing that this year you were going to finish your homework before study hall and do all of your reading assignments. I’d usually fail at that within the first month or so, but still – the intention was there. Fall still feels like a good time to re-organize. This year I’ll be filing my bills (the ones from the summer are all sitting in a stack next to my file box). I’ll be pulling out my calendar and making sure that the fall shipments of all of the books I edit are scheduled in there. Maybe I’ll even buy a few new binders to help with all this. Am I too old for Lisa Frank?


When you go to school for a million freaking years like I did, you graduate with a bit of relief that you’ll never have to do that again. However, if you’re the kind of person who goes to school for a million freaking years, you’re probably a big old nerd who likes learning. Fall is a great time to get back on track and learn a new skill. Always wanted to learn quilting or take those guitar lessons? No better time than now! You can even stretch yourself a little – coding doesn’t sound like the activity of my dreams, but my workplace is offering classes this fall and I figured hey, why not? You can try your local community rec center – mine has a bunch of great classes for, presumably, very old people or 20-somethings who would like to make some old-people friends.

September is a great time to start a class because – in my experience – summer is so busy that there’s just no time for regularly-scheduled activities.


One of the best/worst parts of starting a new school year was the change in schedule. It’s  a good time to reevaluate your schedule as an adult, too. If you have flexible work hours, look at whether your current start- and end- times are really working for you. Should you try moving your workout to the morning instead of the afternoon? Scheduling a “respond to emails” block in the morning? Might as well make it feel like something is changing in September!

Read and Watch

If you don’t have time to learn something new, you can still get back to the books this fall. It’s about time to spend more time indoors, so maybe you should get your book club back together! That is as much a note to myself as anything – I’ve been an “independent reader” all summer, instead.

Also, don’t forget about fall tv – one of the September changes that’s not just for the kids. I’m sure we’ll be writing on that in greater detail later.

If you’re really missing the whole school thing, try a marathon of tv shows or movies set in high school or college. For me, that would include Freaks And Geeks, Mean Girls, Clueless, The Breakfast Club, Dead Poets Society… I could go on, but I think you get the picture.


This commercial just stopped airing a few years ago, but dates to 1996. For real.

When faced with conflicting feelings, I’ve learned that sometimes consumption is the answer. Feel weird? Buy stuff! Ah, 21st century America. Up here in New York, it’s still summer weather – but not for long. Around this time, I always go through my summer wardrobe and donate anything that is worn out, or that I didn’t wear in the past year. It’s also good to go through your fall clothes and see if there’s anything you’re going to need. You may not be going back to school, but you can still take advantage of back-to-school sales!


One thought on “That Weird Back-To School Feeling

  1. Pingback: Saturday Spotlight: Back to School :( | cookies + sangria

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