This is the time of year when all of your favorite magazines and blog posts have been highjacked by back-to-school know-how. I’ve been flipping through some magazines and reading about a whole lot of bad advice getting dished out to young girls and guys about how to approach the first day of school so that it’s absolutely perfect. Since Lisi asked me to guest post today (she was extremely busy today with back-to-back press interviews for Pretenders :)), I figured this would be a good time to run down a few of what I believe to be the top prep issues to get out of the way before your big first day at school.
1. Brush the dust off the old alarm clock. Maybe it’s been a while since last you needed to use it. If it has, then be sure you try it out for a couple of days leading up to school’s start so there won’t be any accidental malfunctions. The last thing you’ll need on your first day is to feel behind schedule as you run late to homeroom. And for Pete’s sake! Don’t forget to switch the PM to AM on the setting!
2. Wear comfortable shoes. For a lot of people, the first day of school is like a fashion show with everybody presenting the best of what they’ve got, showcasing their ah-mazing style to their peers. My junior high wasn’t so much that way, but high school definitely was. Tons of girls came on the first day in sky-high heels, but sometime after lunch, I’d either watch them hobbling out to the parking lot to be picked up by parents, or they had abandoned their heels altogether (which isn’t permissible at school since you need to be wearing footwear). Now I’m not suggesting you get your mom’s Aerosoles loafers and attach them to your stylish first-day-of-school outfit, but do make sure whatever you put on your feet won’t be killing you by late afternoon. Unless you’re one of those heels masters, which I definitely am NOT, leave the stilettos for Friday night.
3. Don’t declare your style. I’m reading all of these articles in teen magazines about how you need to “declare your style” as soon as school starts, starting with the perfect first-day-of-school outfit. I don’t buy it. In my experience, declaring anything in certainty is one of the worst ways you can back yourself into a corner and stop experimenting and exploring with who you really are. So don’t declare a thing. Just do, or be. Wear whatever you want to wear, within reason, of course. It doesn’t hurt to be on trend in one area or another, but by no means should you hold those trends as the almighty rule book for what’s acceptable of you. Junior and high school are times when you’re supposed to wear weird stuff that adults find questionable, or experiment with different personas until you find which one fits, or which one is undeniable ‘you.’ Some of us don’t find that for decades until we’ve already left school behind, and some of us simply follow what the trends say we should wear because it’s so much easier than finding our own personal take on style. If that’s you, that’s fine, as well, but if you’re someone who enjoys expressing an aspect of who you are through what you creatively wear, then go ahead and experiment, experiment, experiment. There’s really no reason not to. And if you’re low on funds to do it, don’t fret. Some of the best dressed, most unique people I know shop solely from thrift stores. Dollar sale, anyone? The last word I’ll say on first-day-of-school outfits is that you definitely should have it ready a few days before classes begin. In my younger years, I systematically had freak outs each first day of school from kindergarten through my senior year (silly, I know) because of outfit mishaps right before I needed to leave my house. Be sure to have your outfit ready and possibly laid out to save you enough time in the morning to eat some breakfast with the ‘rents.
4. Backpack perfection. I am not a huge fan of the word perfect, so I’m not loving all of the advice I’m reading in blogs about how to make your first day as such, but having a great backpack really does skyrocket your day into perfectdom. Sometimes we get a bag that is stylish and cool, but not functional at all and it leaves our backs feeling broken, if not on the first day, definitely by the end of the term. There are so many awesome backpacks these days by every designer under the sun, and many are affordable without sacrificing the cool factor. Here’s something I found in Teen Vogue and they got it exactly right: the top 100 backpacks for back-to-school. Peruse the slideshow here to find your favorite. I’m going to take a class just to have an excuse to buy a new backpack, and I’ll probably get any and all of the ones that look like they are made for boys.
5. Know where your classes are before school starts. This is advice I wish I could tell my past self since I never once tried to find my classes before the moment I needed to be in my seat. I always just assumed I’d be able to find them easily, or that I had a pretty good idea where I needed to go. Don’t under-estimate how long it takes you to navigate a new campus. Even if you’re a high school senior or are in college and have experienced your fair share of first days, sometimes there’s a class that is in the boondocks and running to it against the clock can cause serious stress, not to mention forehead sweat and everybody knows the omnipotent rule in school: NEVER let them see you sweat. Just kidding. (Kinda.) Seriously, sweating in school is the worst. And if all of this advice fails, what you’ll ultimately need is a back-up emergency plan with a good friend to escape the horror of your first day. Maybe you can agree to meet at so-and-so’s locker between 3rd and 4th period to reconvene on the day and pump each other up as needed; or maybe you can drop off notes to each other in a well-concealed way. Remember notes? The original text messaging.
So that’s it. All you need is a working alarm clock, a comfortable backpack or tote as well as shoes, an outfit ready days before the first day of school, a map to your classes, and, if possible, an emergency escape plan with a friend midday just in case the whole day turns out wrong. If you can get those few things in order then you’ll be well on your way to a fantastic first day of class, and you can get back to the dwindling days of summer before the sun goes down on the last one. If you think there’s something I missed or you have your own essential preps, feel free to leave it in the comments. Now forget this post! Go out and try some of the fun, quintessentially summer suggestions detailed in the illustration below.
Alisha, Office Elf