Being The New Kid

The first days are behind us, and the kids have all gone back to school. My oldest son started a new school this year, and there were a few mandatory onboarding events and then a slew of just for fun events, six so far in a three week period. I’m living in the same neighborhood I spent my early childhood in and sending my son to the same school that filled me with such joy and wonder as a child, so I have been feeling so much nostalgia going into this. With all these changes though, I thought he might be feeling anxious or nervous. Being the new kid is always a little uncomfortable, but he seems unfazed. As excited as I have been for him, it brought back a flood of anxiety for me- my husband and I were also the new kids. I have made my way through general anxiety disorder for decades, at times muddling through while others I have seemingly conquered it. It is always there lingering in the shadows, however, even if only in the back of my mind. My husband, on the other hand, has no problems talking to anyone about anything or cracking dad jokes say during orientation, he is the polar opposite of me. Throughout my life I have learned that anxiety reads more like being stuck up or icy, I can’t even count the times I’ve been told that someone thought I was mean or unfriendly based on looks alone during a first meeting. I try to remember to smile and be friendly, but on the inside, I’m sometimes mildly panicking or frequently I’m in my own world thinking of the myriad of things I need to do for work. I hate the term resting bitch face so I won’t use that, but I’m sure you get my drift. I still feel like a kid in these social situations, like somehow my identity as an entrepreneur, author, mother, etc. isn’t good enough, but that’s a me issue, something that is in my mind. Anxiety is a dream killer and will choke the life out of you if you don’t fight back. I do positive affirmations with my sons all the time, my oldest recites how smart he is, funny, kind, creative, loved, and I say the same things to the babies. This is my attempt at making sure every day that they know how wonderful and special they are, I add unique ones for each boy so they also know how much I love their individuality. I frequently forget to do this for myself, even as adults we need to give ourselves a little push sometimes, a little reminder that we are worthy of good things in our life and we are unique too. I once thought positive affirmations were silly and nothing more than a farce for Saturday Night Live in the 80’s, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me.” Our inner monologue has to be mostly positive, for ourselves but also for the people around us, we need to build ourselves up, believe in ourselves and also do the same for our friends and loved ones. We all need a little reminder sometimes that we are more than okay, that we are special and loved. Back to school time stirs up a lot of emotions, children quickly growing up and the passage of time moving so very swiftly, but it can also bring up old feelings that maybe you thought you had outgrown. It’s hard to be the new kid, but it’s also hard to be the new kid's parents; We all just want to find our place and our people, be it in the lunchroom, the office, the PTA meeting or at a soccer game. We all long to be accepted, and as an adult, I feel that making social connections is much more awkward and uncomfortable than it was when we were young. I feel like it’s difficult because so many of us have a negative inner monologue that is holding us back from showing people our genuine personalities and unique selves. Mister Rogers once said “there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story,” and I find that so far in my life that is usually true. We all have a past, no matter how colorful or seemingly dull it may be, this is the tapestry of our lives and what makes us all unique. When we let our guard down and share this uniqueness with the world, we may not always get the reaction we are looking for and over time self doubt and anxiety may swoop in- but don’t let it, fight back! Look inside yourself and remember what makes you a wonderful, one of a kind, special edition. You may have to dig deep to find self-love, but just know that you have a purpose. Maybe you haven’t found that purpose quite yet, but it’s out there just waiting for you to have the lightbulb/ah ha! moment. When meeting new people, be it at work, a school function for our kids, or where ever, let’s all take a minute and remember to look at one another with kindness and love. Being an adult is complicated enough, then add in all the social rules of engagement and etiquette, it’s enough to drive you mad. If you see another person on the fringes of a gathering or looking a little nervous, go talk to them! If you are the anxious person standing in the corner wondering why you came in the first place, come find me. I will always be a little more awkward than I mean to be, but there will always be seats at my table for new friends. Be kind to each other and look at the people around you, not the people you already love but the people outside of your circle, look at them with love and compassion this week and maybe you’ll change someone’s day or life for the better, you’ll never know unless you try.