There's something about this time of year that comes as a surprise. The passing of August to September happens quietly enough, and suddenly everything seems to shift. If you're a student, the change is obvious: return to classes.
But when you leave the student life behind, why does the residue of Back to School time remain so thick?
That's what I've wondered, year after year.
As a child I enjoyed school. In high school I ran away from home, and eventually at 23 I returned to Philadelphia and started college. In the tumultuous years I wasn't enrolled, back to school time reminded me of the things I used to excel at, the things I once had use for. Notebooks, an agenda, writing utensils, and things to organize and carry them in.
Starting undergrad at Temple University was chaotic my first year. The money wasn't together and I struggled to buy my books, pay rent, eat well. I was working full time and in class full time. It was exhausting. But I was excited to get school supplies that year. I learned college required different tools than those of compulsory education—no more seven half-empty 1-subject notebooks. By the time I graduated with my Communications degree, I had perfected a note-taking system that only required a single notebook across my 5 separate classes.
After graduating, I found I had almost nothing to fill a planner with, and so I went back to a B6 journaling notebook, my everyday carry. Since then, my creative life supplies have fluctuated. Right now I have a B5 Apica NOTE BOOK for my novel manuscript, an A5 weekly MUJI planner covered in stickers, my Traveler's Notebook for TO DOs and personal journaling, and lately a TAGGED all-weather memo pad for unstructured notes to self and brain dumping. Oh, and a trusty A5 Mnemosyne flip-top notepad for work!
My point is, habits—like seasons, like circumstances—change. Yet we find ourselves year after year at the juncture where summer turns to fall, and preparations need to be made.
The astrologically inclined may have noticed that back to school season coincides with Virgo season, which runs from mid August to mid September. Virgo is the self-possessed shrine maiden who ensures things are efficient, ordered, and that needs are taken care of. And Virgo, one of the four mutable zodiac signs that herald the ends of the four seasons, transitions us from the end of summer into autumn.
We are in a transitional time, is what I've come to realize. That's what "back to school season" really is, even if we're no longer formal students taking classes. Things change, and when they do, it's an excellent time to take stock of what's transpired and what's next.
In my case, I moved this summer and my things are still in disarray. What you're seeing is my office trying to come together and failing. Something that worked before isn't working now. I thought I had it all figured out, too. Somehow it seems my whole life is different than it was this time last year… How did that happen, I wonder?
Better get into my notebooks and figure it out.