I have always loved school. At the end of each summer, I would anticipate the start of another year. New notebooks, pencils, and binders gave me a rush of excitement and I’d never be able to sleep the night before my first day.
I wish I still held that same excitement for the start of my sophomore year of college. But instead of anticipation, I feel a sense of dread.
Though my excitement for the beginning of school seems to have gone a permanent summer vacation, one thing about this year’s end of summer and beginning of school remains the same from years before: it doesn’t quite feel real.
Sure, I know it’s happening, but it hasn’t quite sunk in. The beginning of classes never really hits me until that first day where I find myself sitting in that first period or first lecture. Only then does the end of summer sink in.
I have a feeling that this will hit me especially hard this year for several reasons. I’ve had a good four months free of classes and homework, which is the longest stretch of summer I’ve ever had. But even though this summer was a long one, it still managed to fly by. I can hardly believe my classes start in just one week.
My classes are also online this semester, which was the last thing I wanted. Although I made my peace with this decision a while ago, waves of sadness and frustration still hit me occasionally, especially with everything drawing so near. The influx of school-related emails flooding my inbox only adds to my sense of dread.
These emails do not excite me, but remind me of all that I am losing this semester.
Just recently, I attended a Zoom meeting for my school’s Honors College Leadership Kickoff. I am going to be a mentor for four incoming freshmen this semester. I was initially excited about this position, but after the news that APU would be switching to online, I’ve done nothing but dread this new responsibility.
How am I supposed to go about this position? How am I supposed to connect with my fellow students through a screen? How am I supposed to dedicate time and energy towards them when I already feel drained and unenthused? What if I don’t know what to say? What if I don’t know how to help them? What if we simply don’t connect?
I think all these questions and doubts boil down to a basic fear of “What if I’m not good enough?” I know deep down that I am capable of leading these students and that everything will work out if I put in the effort and trust God to work in me and through me. Yet doubt still manages to creep in.
After that meeting, I needed a moment to myself to just breathe and think and listen to music, so I went on a walk. I let myself feel those frustrations and fears once again and came back feeling somewhat better.
The next day, emails kept coming, draining my spirits once again. I went on a bike ride later that day out of boredom and need to get out of the house and found my thoughts in a better place.
They landed and lingered on my first semester in the Honors College, which focused on leadership. I found myself remembering my favorite quote by Booker T. Washington which reads, “Nothing comes to one that is worth having except as a result of hard work,” along with a similar quote by Theodore Roosevelt that reads, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”
These quotes reminded me of an essay I wrote during my first semester comparing Niccolò Machiavelli and Aristotle’s leadership philosophies. My thesis for that essay reads, “Ultimately, Aristotle’s leadership methods are more valuable, gratifying, and rewarding because practicing virtue is more difficult than practicing dishonesty.”
As I reflected on this paper and these two philosophers, I realized yet again the value in hard work. I remembered that just because something is difficult to acheive or difficult in practice doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing. I realized that this coming semester may pose challenges that the others didn’t, but the things I will learn and the ways in which I grow will be worth the academic toil and giving of my time.
It’s been a couple days since I wrote the portion of blog post above this line (minus revising), and I must say, it’s a bit wild how quickly our feelings can change.
Only a few days ago I resonated with every word in this post. Today, and even yesterday, the thought of school starting in a week has me unphased. I’m actually looking forward to it (?!?!?!).
I attribute these new and improved feelings to prayer and time; the two things that always seem to pull an emotional and frustrated Megan out of a rut. So thank you, Jesus for renewing my spirit and refreshing my outlook, and thank YOU for reading another one of my blog posts.