Back to School

Going Back to School

I don’t want to do it, and I don’t want to talk about it, but for the past few weeks it’s all I’ve been hearing about. Parents’ lives can now begin again with their kids back at school. They may even be breathing a sigh of relief. For some, it means going back to work after spending the entire summer with their kids. Some of the kids are excited about it, and some of the parents are excited about it, but others are not. Now they have to go back to making lunches and making sure their kids follow some rules, and the kids get to re-learn what the ringing of a bell means. The reason I say that I don’t want to talk about it is that everyone has been talking about it. It’s not something I do or am involved with, yet it’s something that affects me nonetheless. Traffic patterns change, the weather is getting cooler, and I’m reminded of the days when going back to school was “a thing” for me too.

What’s both funny and interesting about going back to school from my perspective is that when I was a kid, I really didn’t like going back to school. I liked learning and didn’t mind school, but I liked summer vacation that much better. I liked the freedom of a less-strict schedule or no schedule at all, summer weather, and doing things I didn’t usually get to do when school was on (like sleep until noon – I know Dad, I was sleeping the day away). And I could “introvert” as much as I wanted.

School: An Introvert’s Paradise?

Since school can be an introvert’s paradise depending on how you work it (and as long as you don’t have teacher who makes you participate by giving you a grade for it) going back to school can actually be a good thing. Those of us who like structure like the structure of school, once we get used to it.  Routines aren’t always bad – it’s just when they get boring do we try to think of things to spice it up. And as you may know introverts don’t usually “get excited” about things. So when somebody would ask me if I was excited about going back to school, I probably looked at the person as if they had two heads. I wasn’t thinking of all the “me time” I would get with my head buried in text books. I was thinking about recess, the new kids in my class, and seeing the kids in school that I hadn’t seen all summer. And when I got to high school my concern was blending in with the walls and the furniture so as not to seem so new and awkward. By the time I was in my last year of high school, I was getting more used to talking to strangers, and had mastered looking like I belonged there even though I hadn’t mastered physics or organic chemistry in any way shape or form. It was a good thing neither of those subjects were required to get into Business School.

University Days

Starting university where almost everyone was new, and where there were so many activities planned to force us to meet and interact with strangers, was scary at first because who knew what extreme level of weirdness things could get to?

Once I got past that initial shock of meeting 500 new people at once, University was the kind of school I liked going back to. Every time I went back, I looked forward to it. I could choose how I wanted to spend my days, when and where I studied, who I spent time with and when, and I could nap in the afternoon on a Tuesday if I wanted to. It was fantastic! My parents stop telling me what to do for a few months, and only call me if I have mail and wanted to know what to do with it.

As an Adult – Why I’m glad I’m not going back to school

There are a few reasons why I’m glad I’m not going back to school, the fact that my brain is so full of things I never wanted to know that there’s no more room for that stuff notwithstanding.

  • No more group work and working with strangers that you may not get along with (it changed every semester).
  • There’s no homework
  • And no pressure to pass…

Oh wait, it’s now called professional development, having a job and networking, and we have to do these things all the time! But hey, at least we’re getting paid money (at some stage) for these things now and we can choose where and what we eat, and it doesn’t have to involve noodles unless we want it to (and gosh darn it, those noodles had better be expensive and have some fancy sauce with them! No more student-pasta!)

Back to School Shopping

While I didn’t like that the “grown-ups” started talking about going back to school only two weeks into summer vacation, one of the things I liked about getting ready for back to school was getting some new stuff. There were notebooks and pens, maybe a new backpack and shoes, and clothes. A well-timed growth spurt could mean an entire wardrobe-refresh. As an adult, even though I could technically buy new clothes any time I want, I used to enjoy using the back-to-school excuse for myself to go and get some new things, even though my “old” stuff wasn’t worn out yet. I also enjoy a good sale. It’s just too bad that back-to-school sales don’t seem to apply to “professional” clothing or things that come in my size; or cars; or rent.

Lifelong Learning

It’s not just a line on my resume, I’m learning all the time. Being a lifelong learner is not just a gimmick, and it’s not just a line on my resume. It’s also something that is required for the maintenance of professional designations, as well as to have things to talk about at networking events and conferences, and something to do on a work-day other than your regular job. We’ll talk about conferences in a future article, because they are special. Being a lifelong learner also means that going back to school could be something we do over and over again, just when we think we’re done with school. Maybe we’re no longer in formal school programs, but read books and listen to talks to learn more. And being an introvert, this listening thing I do comes in handy. I may be listening on purpose and you may notice. Or maybe I’m listening and you don’t notice that I’ve heard every word you’ve said and now I know things you don’t know that I know about you; all in the name of lifelong learning.

What were/ are your back to school experiences like? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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E-mail kathryn@kathrynreichheld.ca Hours Contact me anytime and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
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