The adorable little girl on the left is my six year old niece on her first day of first grade. She has been counting down the days of summer and is so excited to be joining the world of school-ies. And you guessed it: There on the right is me, on the first day of my senior year in college. There could be some metaphorically resonant* symbolism in this pair of photos, but mostly it just makes me feel old.
(It was also a nice way to send my niece some transatlantic love from her favorite aunt.)
My niece was born when I was a freshman in high school, and I felt all grown up even then. And although I have one foot out the “youngin” door, or as my father likes to call it-”Senioritis,” I understand a lot of what she is feeling.
First days are hard. No matter how old you are or how many ‘first days’ you’ve had already. You are forced to grapple with the contradiction of expecting the unexpected. No matter how much you try to prepare, there’s the inherent uncertainty of what will be. But that’s also part of the fun.
After my first week of senior year, I am reveling in the excitement of the new, even within the familiarity of my home campus. New professors, new syllabi, used-books-that-are-new-to-me. Not knowing what to expect leads to surprises that can be wonderful too. I hadn’t expected, for example, to see people from my high school, who were freshman when I was a senior and recognizing some metaphorically resonant aspect to the déjà vu-ness of it all.
I wish my niece success on her first, first day, and wish her many more happy uncertain surprises to come.
*I would just like to give full credit to John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” for adding that wonderful phrase to my lexicon.