Back to School Rituals


Growing up in a family of public school teachers and life-long learners, the last days of August were my favorite time of year.  So many back-to-school rituals.

Buying the new school supplies needed for the next grade level.  Finding new clothes and new shoes, having outgrown the ones that fit just a year ago.  Anticipating reunions with friends and classmates whom I hadn’t seen in 3 months.

Even now, years after those back to school rituals ended for me, there’s a wistful feeling that creeps up on me in the days of late-August weather, with children in my neighborhood once again standing at the corner waiting on the school bus and moms posting adorable “first day” photos on facebook.

Over the weekend, a five-year-old child in my extended family called to tell us about the first week of full-day kindergarten.  “We get to have THREE meals,” she said excitedly!  Well, a snack for morning recess, a meal for lunch, and a snack for afternoon recess.  I guess that’s three meals when you’re five!  She was so excited by her first week of school that she got up early on Saturday and dressed in school clothes, convinced that this activity on Saturday would help Monday come that much sooner!

Contemplating this morning, I realized why I still enjoy that wistful feeling in late August.  Those back-to-school rituals signal a fresh start on a new academic year.  While we might have been in classes with some of the same students and even some of the same teachers, it truly is a new year.  A genuinely fresh start: forward-looking for new content to learn, new skills to develop, and new adventures to experience.  That’s what I always loved about the new school year.  I guess I still do!

Maybe there’s a way for us as employees and even as job seekers to reclaim that back-to-school fresh start for ourselves in these weeks, too.  Letting go of “last year” and grabbing hold of a forward-looking energy for new content to learn, new skills to develop, and new adventures to share.

Republished with permission. Originally published by Elyse on her recruiting blog in 2013.

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