What I Want You To Know On Your First Day Of School

September 04, 2013

I’m not a Mother. I’m not even an Aunt. I’m not a teacher. And I’m not a student. So what business do I have talking about the first day of school? That’s what I was thinking as I perused my friends’ Facebook photos of their eager children posing in their first-day-of-school outfits so carefully laid out the night before. What could I, childless and school-less, have to say about the first day of school? And then I began to recall that feeling. The jittery excitement and nerves of the world being at your fingertips. The sensation that anything is possible because you’re starting anew. The feeling that this is going to be your year because this year you’re finally going to figure out your “thing”. And that’s when I realized that that feeling is the same sensation I still get whenever I’m starting anything anew. When I start a new venture I grow excited thinking that this is it—this is going to be my thing. I was an anxious child—always stuck in my own head. Worried that I would never be good enough at anything. But the first day of school was always different. On the first day of school I felt like I could change all of that, finally find myself, and figure out what I was good at—what made me special (if I even was). I would think, this year I’m going to audition for the school play and I’m going to get cast! This year, I’m going to try out for the cheerleading team! This year I’m going to try out for the basketball team. This year I’m going to try out for the volleyball team. And I did. Try out, that is. I tried out for everything and I made the cut for nothing. And that’s when the excitement started to wear off and the worry started to mount. How am I going to make it through this year, I’d wonder. I’m not good at anything, I’d constantly remind myself. I don’t want any kids to feel like this. I don’t want any adults to feel like this either. But you know what? You might. You might get one foot into that “something” exciting and new and realize that it’s not all that exciting anymore. That it isn’t what you expected it to be. You might feel like you’re failing. You might call yourself a failure. You might feel like you’re not good at anything. You might worry that you don’t have a “place”. The grand opening of my cupcake bakery was like the first day of school. I donned my best outfit in my brand colors of black and pink, tied black and pink balloons outside the front door, baked dozens upon dozens of cupcakes, and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Two customers showed up that day. TWO. Imagine that. That fearful wondering of “how am I going to make it through this year” flooded back to me with force. I was scared. Post-first-day-of-school-cut-from-every-team scared. I trembled with fear that this thing that I thought was my thing was not in fact my thing. Why can’t I just be good at something, I pleaded. And then you know what I did? After I cried on the kitchen floor? I walked back into my bakery the next day, and the next, and the next, and every single day after that. I just kept walking in and doing that thing. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, thinking of new ideas, and trying new things. And when one thing didn’t work I tried something different. When one flavor wasn’t a hit, I tried another. When I didn’t get cast after my first audition for Cupcake Wars, I auditioned again. And then I made it onto Cupcake Wars, I won the war, my bakery was a success, I got a book deal, I wrote a cookbook, and now here I am. Many people say I finally found my thing. But I’ll tell you a little secret. Today, as you head back to school, I feel as though I’m heading back to school too. With my cookbook finally published and on store shelves, I feel like I’m starting anew. What’s next for me? I’m not even sure. But as I take that next step forward and onto the bus, I’ve finally learned what you may not yet have learned but what I wish I had learned at your age: That even when the excitement wears off and the dust settles, and when you fear that you’re never going to find your thingif you put one foot in front of the other, continue trying new things and faithfully putting yourself out there, eventually you will find your thing. And it will all be ok.    

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