Dear Kindergarten Saba,
Today is my last first day of high school. My brother and his friend are sitting in the backseat of my impossibly small car, laughing about the videos they’re watching on their iPhones. It’s been at least two years since they’ve been taller than me; as we stroll into the school, it appears as if they are the seniors and not I.
On your first day of school, you couldn’t step out of the car. Not wouldn’t, couldn’t. Your mother had to coax you onto the sidewalk as your dad gently set your new backpack on your shoulders. Sandwiching yourself between your parents, you slowly approached the elementary school doors.
I certainly don’t feel like a senior either; there’s so much that I haven’t done yet. So much that I’ve only experienced through a John Hughes movie or early 2000s song. In my head, high school is the screech of convertibles stopping before a stop light, “hitting the mall” after school. But in real life, my high school experience seems to pale in comparison, like I’ve been living in black and white but dreaming in color.
There was so much you wanted to do, and it was only your first day. You glanced at the books you longed to read and the maps of continents you were excited to explore. But you were so nervous. All the older students were running around the front hallway, scuffing their shoes on the newly painted floors. You sat in the very corner of the classroom, soaking in all the details yet afraid to speak to anyone else.
I know everything seems so daunting, but it will get better. It always does. Children tease one another regarding what they fear and hate; they will tell their peers that their problems are insignificant. I’ve seen adults do the same things to their children, saying with a sigh that their children’s issues really aren’t that substantial. I won’t lie and tell you that people still don’t do that to each other in high school, because they do. We do that all the time.
When your class first began, your teacher went around the room, asking each child to introduce him or herself. As each student announced their name, favorite colors and foods with the certainty that only a five-year-old can possess, you sat alone with your thoughts. As the girl beside you finished her turn, you looked up at your teacher, heart beating.
But there is nothing wrong with being afraid, there’s nothing wrong with being uncomfortable or inexperienced or confused. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are inferior because you have challenges or flaws.
Your teacher smiled as you whispered your name in shaky breaths, and you didn’t feel so alone or worried anymore. As you described your interests, your eyes caught the sign above the board: “TRY SOMETHING NEW. BE BRAVE. STAY KIND.” Your voice grew louder.
Today is my last first day of school. There are going to be a lot of “lasts” this year. And I could lie and tell you that doesn’t scare me, but I know that you know that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I continue to take risks: to try something new, to be brave, to stay kind. I have a whole school year left before me and I’m determined to take advantage of it and do all the things that I’ve hesitated to do before.
You made new friends that day. You learned how to add and subtract. You went to your first morning assembly, and then you took your first step on a school field and then another. And then you were running because suddenly there was a whole bright future ahead of you and the yells of your peers around you were no longer threatening, but exciting and welcoming.
Remember that the hardest thing to do is take the first step: the rest is easy.
Twelfth Grade Saba