Finding Your Back-To-School Zen

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In a lot of ways, August is just like one long Sunday, a whole month tinted by the looming inevitable Monday of autumn. Those long hot days draw out like slow ripples on the surface of a pool. The ice cream man jangles in the distance. The golds and pinks of the summer sunset plot out their final days. A stillness hums at your window.

And a thought occurs to you—cruelly, incessantly, nauseatingly—like a mosquito in your ear: School is coming.

You remind yourself that the salt air, and the late nights, and the fireflies, they'll all soon be a faded memory, part of a dreamscape that will return only to haunt your concentration in the chill of October.

The sudden return of homework, due dates, and exams; of afterschool sports and debate team meets and student government elections, of orientations and assemblies and community programs about binge-drinking…all of this structure can come at you a little fast.

It's no wonder so many millennials struggle with health conditions like anxiety, sleep deprivation, and Pokemon Go dependency. Your life is a jumble of responsibilities, ambitions, and uncertainties. And it all comes on quick once the school year gets underway.

So whether you're embarking on your first year of college, getting the big promotion to high school upperclassman, or you're just a really tightly wound 3rd Grader, we have one critical piece of advice for you this year: Chill Out.

Sure, sure. Teachers, parents and guidance counselors will tell you all about managing your time effectively, about developing good study habits, about using the support resources that are available to you. That's all great advice, and you should take all of it.

But that's not everything. The one thing nobody will mention to you during your orientation, or your meeting with your advisor, or a visit to your professor's office hours, is this:

You need to chill out.

School can be intense. The pressures can feel enormous. And with the constant emphasis on your transcript, your extra-curricular resume, your major, and your career aspirations, you might feel like every single homework assignment, every single test, every single question you answer in class carries life-altering consequences.

Let me assure you though, that they don't.

You will get over your bad grades. You will still have the opportunity to be an employable and productive member of human society. You will not destroy all your hopes and dreams for the future with the stroke of a #2 Pencil.

You will have bad days. You might get the occasionally less-than-stellar grade. You might struggle so immensely with a certain subject that you dream casually of traveling back in time just to stop the jerk who invented it. But there is more to your educational life than these discouraging moments. As consequential as it all feels now, your bad days will not follow you for all of eternity. (By contrast, the consequences of time-travel could be an unravelling of the space-time continuum and destruction of the universe as we know it, so make your choices carefully.)

To be clear, we're not telling you to blow off your responsibilities, to work less hard, to take school less seriously. We're just saying, keep things in perspective, take your failures with dignity, recognize every misstep as an opportunity to find new footing.

And for real, chill out.

This school year will throw challenges your way. Maybe this is the year you read Ivanhoe and none of it makes any sense to you. Maybe this is the year that calculus beats you to a bloody pulp. Maybe this is the year you join the French Club, overdose on baguettes, and develop an uncomfortable gluten intolerance.

There's no way to know. You will best some of the challenges that stand before you. Others will get the better of you. And we don't mean to imply that the outcome doesn't matter. Many of these experiences will be immensely important. They will shape your understanding of the world, test your threshold in everything from intuition, diligence, and creativity to patience, boredom, and obedience.

Take your education equally from victory and defeat. Be resilient, receptive and ready to shift gears. And for the love of all that is good, chill out.

There are still a few precious days left in this most fleeting of seasons. Enjoy and make the most of it. Because the school year, just as it does every year, will soon put an end to all of that. And it will do so with no apologies for its rude interruption.

But when the school year does get here, stick with us. This September marks not just the start of another school year, but our first anniversary here at TBS Magazine. Over the course of our inaugural year, we think we've learned a thing or two about what you, the reader, want to see.

You've taken more than a passing interest in our features on health and wellbeing. You've been receptive to our advice on student living. You took a pretty keen interest in our Rock and Roll lists, (though most of you agree that I should have ranked Queen way higher).

We'll try our best to give you more of what you want this year. And if you have any suggestions for subjects that we should be covering, stories that deserve our attention, or amazing roadside dessert stands we should visit during our travels, don't hesitate to reach out and let us know.

As we begin our second school year together, we humbly offer our services, our support, and our company. Come here to learn, come here to laugh, or just come by and chill with us.

Best of luck to you in the coming school year.

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