I remember the breeze that washed over me as the sliding gates to stationery heaven, otherwise known as Staples, parted ways. The scent of pristine notebooks mixed with ink wafted into my nostrils.
My eyes illuminated as I scanned the vivacious posters promoting various discounts. There were bins filled to the brim with stationery, pens, highlighters – my heart skipped a beat when I spotted the arrangement of notebooks. It was July 27 of the summer before I entered sixth grade, and I was shopping for school supplies, because I could not stand the anticipation of waiting another day.
I believe my intense fascination with stationery stems from the idea that it will somehow organize my life without me actually having to organize, or deal with my awful procrastination habit.
This may have played a part in the enthusiasm I showed towards school supplies shopping. However, I know many students who become excited for the first day of school and a new year, despite having celebrated last year’s demise only 60 days prior.
The first day of school represents the same thing as the front page in the new five-star notebook you bought for it, a fresh start. A new beginning is the reason why many other students and I look forward to the start of school, despite dreading almost everything it entails: homework, tests, stress. The past year’s grades are forgotten, you have new classes and peers, it’s almost as if someone hits a giant reset button over summer and reputations are erased. It provides the illusion that somehow come Sept. 5 you can completely reinvent yourself.
This is why the back-to-school industry thrives – a closet filled with shiny new clothes, backpacks stuffed with supplies still in the packaging, hair soft from the cut you just got, all to revamp your image.
We all fall victim to dreamy ideas claiming this will be the year I don’t procrastinate and I’ll listen in class. I won’t be shy and I’ll get involved. I’ll actually study for tests and get straight A’s. We disregard that Sept. 4 and 5 are only seconds apart, in favour of deciding to forge a whole new version of ourselves overnight, so that this school year will be perfect.
However, we students all need to recognize school will never be perfect. After the initial back-to-school buzz wears off the first week, school is just the same and so are you. Math tests will always suck, not everyone is going to like you, and most days you won’t want to get up when your alarm goes off, no matter where you went back-to-school shopping.
Instead of draining our energy stressing over which top to wear, or how to fix our chronic habit of zoning out in class – it’s OK to embrace your flaws too. We should start to value learning for free, being surrounded by classmates who make the lengthy lessons seem a little shorter, and the days we have left of getting to be a teenager.
Ella Lane is a Grade 11 student at Claremont secondary school.