Do you remember your first day at school? Some kids can’t wait to get to school for the first time. Some find it scary and don’t want to go at all. Some kids don’t want to leave their moms at the school gate.
Seeing all those strange, big kids in the playground can be frightening, and the teachers may talk in loud, stern voices—but for most of us, going to school is something that we have to do whether we like it or not. How we feel about it, though, is something about which we do have a choice.
If Alicia remembered her first day at elementary school she would probably recall a lot of those scary feelings. At the time of our story, however, she has grown to be one of the big kids. She knows everyone in her class and many of the kids in other classes, and has lots of friends. She knows the teachers, plays sports, and doesn’t think about what that first day felt like. Now that is ending. Alicia is about to start high school. Again, her mother will drop her at the gate of a new school and say goodbye while Alicia steps into an unfamiliar schoolyard with a lot of kids she doesn’t know and teachers she has yet to meet. Again she will be one of the little kids. How will she cope? In elementary school she felt accepted, even important. She had gone from the bottom to the top of the school. Anyone who could see what was happening to Alicia now might want to say, “Hey, remember when you first went to school. It felt scary and unfamiliar then, but look at how you handle it now. If you made those changes once through elementary school, then surely you can do the same at high school.”
Of course, Alicia didn’t know what lay ahead. She had no choice about the fact that she had to go to high school, yet, again, she had a choice about how she felt. There might be scary things about high school but there might be exciting, fun things, too. None of us can see the future, so Alicia couldn’t be expected to know how interesting it might be to tackle new and different subjects, how pleasant her teachers might be, or what new friends she might make. She had yet to experience all the things she could do, like music, drama, and sports.
Alicia may have forgotten how she was already capable of making the changes to new and un- familiar experiences. If she had done it at elementary school, surely she could do it now that she was bigger and older and knew more than she did before. Someone had once said to her, “We only need to do something once to know that we can. Once you have learned to ride a bike, play a new computer game, or work out a math formula, you know you can do it again. The more you do it the better you become.”