Back to School– A New Normal!

Every year, August comes around, and every year, social media is bombarded with adorable pictures of first days of school with captions “I can’t believe he’s in first grade! How does this happen?!” – I know I’ve made plenty of these posts myself, and yes, it’s hard to believe that enough time has passed, that things, seasons, people, have changed enough to be in that new stage of life.

But no matter how weird that initial August shift is, by October, it’s pretty normal, is it not? What was once so strange and almost disarming is suddenly the norm. Life keeps chugging along, only to be “hit” with the same weirdness in another year, or whatever passage of time we use to mark change.

Everything is weird, a little “off” our normal, our default … until it’s not.

We settle in. We know part of the process of new is an eventual settling.

Every time you walk in the doors of a new job, you’re taking in the sights and smells dappled with bits of anxiety and excitement. We tell our kids, “Don’t be nervous; remember when you went to gymnastics for the first time and left with a new best friend?” We draw from previous success in being integrated into a new normal, and we encourage others to do so. We tell ourselves and others, “This has to get easier over time [if I just keep showing up].” And it does.

But for some reason, we fence off certain areas of our lives – sticking with a fitness routine, eating well, managing to say “NO” to the commitments that don’t fit – and we resign to being stuck. “It must just be who I am.”

What if, instead, we choose to be inspired and motivated by the ever-present cycle of change-through-showing-up happening all around us:  If a first grader stopped going to school after a few hard first days, would he keep moving forward in his education? Would he become a second grader next year, eventually a graduate? Would his parents decide that he couldn’t handle the healthy cycle of constant change, newness, and settling, and deny him progressing in life? No, they’d encourage him that every change is hard at first but eventually normal.

Every time newer members walk through the gym door, they look for familiar faces and perhaps familiar movements on the whiteboard across the gym. Coaches recognize the telltale “squint” as their eyes try to make sure, if they’re WOD checkers, that everything matches with what their app told them they’d be doing today.

At some point though, a member walks in, and friendly faces aren’t necessarily sought out because she is the friendly face. She is overheard telling the nervous new On Ramp grad, “Don’t worry, we all feel like this at first – just follow along with me, and the coaches will tell you what to do! Just keep showing up, and I promise it will make sense!” In a moment, her coaches can see that her consistent choice to show up has woven her into the fabric of the new normal.

She recollects her multiple victories over those fleeting feelings telling her to embrace easy (“I’m really not in the mood to work out today”) with a reminder of her commitment to something better. She remembers the journey it took to get this new normal, reflects on that time under tension that helped cultivate a resilient body and mind. She has time in the trenches, and it shows in how she walks, how she lifts weights and carries groceries, how she applies for that job previously thought to be out of reach.

You’re riding the wave of change all around you, every day. August-to-October back-to-school registration – now school pictures – HOW IS IT CHRISTMAS BREAK ALREADY?! —

Ohhhhhh … right. I’ve done this before, and I’ll do it again.

We were made for this. We can do new; we can do hard; we can be the catalyst for change in our own lives. We can ride the wave of the necessary changes, the passing of time, while we fight back against what we won’t accept:  complacency, the submission to previously unbroken oppressive cycles, the belief that the easy-way-out-seeker is just who we are. We CAN be the change, and it CAN become our new normal.




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