Back to School

Back to School | Creative non-fiction Random Specific Thoughts

“how sad and bad and mad it was – but then, how it was sweet”
― Robert Browning

March 1, 2021

It’s a little past 10 in the evening, when my phone’s notification tone sends a ripple of anticipation through my heart and soul. Well aware of what it’s for, I check just to convince myself of how real all of this is. Students have to report at 10 am tomorrow to collect their end-of-term results and new textbooks along with their parents, so the teachers can discuss grade 12 options.

Last year this time, I was a carefree 16 year old, thrilled at the idea of a summer break that I knew would span months. It’s barely been a year but the thought of meeting teachers and peers after a whole academic year of virtual and invisible contact founded on trust that the student was there a screen away, is terrifying.

Photo by olia danilevich on

“There is no greater sorrow
Than to recall a happy time
When miserable.”
― Dante Alighieri

March 2, 2021

Thanks to COVID, the mask makes it almost impossible to smile, what could have been a quick and polite substitute for actual conversation, is now masked. I practice scrunching my face at weird angles so that my eyes appear like slits offering a mere semblance of a smile.

I dread imagining how my voice will carry through the mask. It doesn’t help I sound like a frog with a clogged windpipe on a normal day, the mask is going to make even that hideous voice, sound like a muffled grumble. Days and months of conveying my questions and feelings through emojis and GIFs have taken their toll on me; my voice sounds perfectly detached from life, a mere medium for human talk prompted by an unfeeling mind. I so loved having emojis smile for me when I couldn’t, having GIFs emulate my exact reactions to my friends at our kiddy jokes and recklessly curious doubts.

As the pandemic stretched on, I found myself using more of these, even though I hated the yellow of the face emojis with a passion like never before. The smiley one ended up synonymous with ‘Thank you‘, the thinking one for ‘I have no idea. You?” and the star was the standard response to teachers notifying us of new tests, ‘That’s brilliant! The tests are going to be enlightening.

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on

As we approach 10 am on my clock, we’re just pulling into the school’s parking lot. When you start school for the first time ever, you get all these beautifully illustrated books with crisp pages and hardbound spines abound with colours and kindness; books that feel like they belong in a child’s hand.

The illusion deteriorates as you grow older and by the time you somehow end up in grade 12, the books are merely huge chunks of text and diagrams, hastily compiled pages with delicate covers that showcase artistic ink leaks all over the place. As much as I’m grateful for an education, these books instil in me a fear like no other.

The school’s ever so silent; no children roam these hallways now, the staff is done for the day and the classrooms have all been abandoned; the huge locks serve as evidence of the year that was stolen from us. There’s no one outside, save a man in the park; a park that has seen days when the park itself wasn’t visible owing to a huge outflow of toddlers excited and keen to try everything in there.

I see one of my teachers seated at the Reception and the feeling of nonchalance that passes through the both of us, stings my very being. Our masks give us a cold demeanour because her eyes are magnified with glasses and mine glassy with a lack of sleep. It’s hard to believe she’s still the same teacher who taught us Maths and made it seem like the most cordial subject ever. Many may have been disinterested in the subject but she was the one teacher any of us would have turned to for help, without hesitation.

We exchange pleasantries and move because everyone appears to be moving guided by an invisible hand; lost in their own worlds of expectations and dreams that just won’t be happening today. Because, for the first time ever, it’s not the students who are confused; the parents and teachers are just as lost as we are.

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
― Carson McCullers

I see my classmates in person, for the first time. They’re almost like I remember them from before, but there’s a pall of indifference over all of them. Our parents speak for us, while we sit motionless taking in every tiny detail of the classroom, we never got to call home. The way the corkboard has articles and projects from 2019 etches into our hearts yet another reminder of the school year that existed, but we didn’t live through. There are 20 chairs in the room and with 10 students, the classroom seems strangely out of place in itself, its shelves and boards pleading for a child’s touch.

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No one really talks other than the usual ‘How are you?’ and ‘See you later’. We’ve all grown so conditioned to online talk, it seems like everyone’s been caught off guard, by having to talk to actual humans. No one’s voice carries through the mask, the way they expect it to, and everything is repeated twice and thrice. After a few minutes or so of grumbled speech and awkward glances, because we didn’t have emojis to convey our pretend moods, we leave only to return the next day for an actual class.

“Grown up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

March 28, 2021

It’s not too different now but it’s better. We’ve grown used to the masks on our faces so much that they feel like they’re a part of us. With just 10 students, we’ve accepted the other for friends because this is our last year of school and there’s no time to get selective about friends or teachers.

We’ve gotten to know our teachers a bit more, that they don’t seem like strangers anymore. Smiling is still a masked procedure but all of us have mastered the act of bulging out our cheeks and scrunching our eyes, that our faces appear childishly happy.

When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

Photo by Jess Vide on

Realising that the world is just another school and acknowledging my need to remain a life long student, I doubt I’ll ever miss school because every remaining day of my life is going to be just another version of all the ‘Back To School‘s I’ve had the privilege of living through.

It feels good to be given homework, scolded for our bad performances on tests and questioned frequently about our lives, and treated like young children. Because, when this is all over and we’re thrust into college and the world; it’s not school that we’ll miss the most but this precious feeling of being considered a child and the teachers’ kind mercy in seeing the child in us even when we desperately try to appear like grown ups.

“The past is a candle at great distance: too close to let you quit, too far to comfort you.”
― Amy Bloom, Away

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

The above is based off on what’s been happening recently; I suppose it counts as a ‘life update’ in a way. A lot of it was inspired by my diary entries from the mentioned days. School really feels weird now; in just a year of online classes, it truly feels like all of us lost something that made us seem more human. I hope you enjoyed reading this little write-up! A quick shout-out and huge thank you to Anna and Diamond for reading beforehand!

86 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. This was really funny and clever D. I can imagaine your scrunched up face trying to appear as smiles and all of the transitions of `10 in a classroom. I’m still not sick of the happy emoji but maybe I should be. Thank God for them in writing otherwise I could / would drone on.
    This is really sweet “when this is all over and we’re thrust into college and the world; it’s not school that we’ll miss the most but this precious feeling of being considered a child and the teachers’ kind mercy in seeing the child in us even when we desperately try to appear like grown ups”.🤗🤫⭐️. Hi to your kitty 😺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow you wrote this SO well D! It took me down memory lane, remembering how super strange it felt last March, wondering about what future we were all walking into. I definitely forget I’m wearing a mask when I’m in stores now – at least, my breathing’s not labored by it anymore. I’ve adapted thankfully! But I’ll never get used to not being able to smile at people. That’s one of the biggest things I’ll be thankful for once masks are less necessary ❤️ I have no idea when that will be, but I have a happy vision for the future 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was so good, D!💛 The way you wrote this post is awesome!!😊 I’ve also started school recently and I can relate to everything you said. Wow! It’s your last year at school! I understand how different and difficult it would be for you. “it’s not school that we’ll miss the most but this precious feeling of being considered a child and the teachers’ kind mercy in seeing the child in us even when we desperately try to appear like grown ups.” This is so true!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aw.. thank you so much, Cindy!❤️ Oops, that’s probably not a good thing to imagine 👀😂
    Haha, I’m not sick of it but I miss not being able to use it in a physical classroom. Absolutely 😂 Thank God for emojis!
    Aw.. thank you! I feel like that’s what I’ll miss the most a few years from now..✨
    She says hello!😸
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts!!🤗❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks so much, Emily! Ooh, good luck! Don’t be, I’m sure it’ll feel better with time! Haha, strange is definitely one way to say it. My pleasure! Thank you so much for reading!


  6. Ahh, thanks so much, Maggie!!❤️ Oh, absolutely! Last March had promises of returning to normal soon but now, it feels like we’ve all adapted to this as the new normal. Haha, that’s so relatable! I’m glad to hear your breathing is more comfortable now! too. I’m not a huge fan of smiling but I do miss it as a substitute to actual conversation 👀😂 But I agree with you! I hope we can all get back to actual smiling soon! Ahh, don’t we all? With happy clouds and trees👏😂💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful piece D! I agree with you. After a year of online classes, it’s hard to get back into the routine of going to in-person classes and it feels like part of your life was taken away. It’s my senior year of college and I had high hopes for it, only for those plans to go down the drain due to the pandemic.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was a beautiful post, D! School does feel a bit weird, and might I add, scary. After nearly a year of online lessons, I can’t imagine going back. It seems somehow scary yet amazing. I loved your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You’re welcome! Yeah, it’s definitely a new normal. hehe yup, I have a harder time saying ‘hi’ than I do just smiling, so I guess wearing masks has made me have to reach out more! 😂 yeeees haha ❤️❤️


  10. Wow, D… This is amazing. I loved the way you’ve conveyed how robotic and unfeeling we’ve become in this year, and how absolutely terrifying the higher levels of school tend to be. It’s artfully written.
    Fabulous post… I’m blown!!
    stay sticky,

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow. While i don’t relate about the going to school part, i can say, It does feel the same when going back to other activities. The Mask?? Ugh. I am so sick of them. I can totally relate to how strange people’s voices sound behind masks, mine included. lol.

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  12. A masked smile can’t be described better anymore. I tried smiling this way a few times and your description makes me chuckle imagining how funny I’d have looked. 😆

    Lucky that you’ve got to experience the “Back to school” feel. I wish you the best in your final year at school. Enjoy your days, D! The last year will surely bring in so many pleasant memories. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So happy to hear that, Roshni!! Thank you so much!
    Yay! I hope it’s going great. Glad you could relate!😂💕
    It is my last year! It’s been werid to say the least, like I don’t have a hold over what’s happening. But it’s definitely getting better with time.
    Ahh, I’m so happy you think so too! It’s definitely what I’ll miss the most.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks so much, Lana!! Ahh, I’m glad you agree; it’s such a weird feeling that not only does it feel like a part of life has been made non-existent bit the fact that it physically appears so too.
    Ooh, senior year sounds amazing!! Aw.. I’m sorry the pandemic did that but with the vaccine, maybe things will hopefully get better soon..

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you so much, Moi! Oh, absolutely; weird, scared and exciting and everything in between.
    Haha, I couldn’t too! But I’m back and while the transition was a bit rough, it’s getting better.
    So happy to hear that! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You’re too kind, Joanna! I’m a mere student just trying to make sense of what’s happening 😂
    Thank you so much for your encouraging take on this write!❤️ My pleasure!


  17. Thank you very much! I don’t mind change at all, but this seems like some sort of game life’s playing. I hope the future generation doesn’t have to go through something like this. Glad you think so!
    Thank you so much for reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Aw…thank you so much! Glad to hear that! It’s so sad to see everything that’s happening around and everyone just seems so nonchalant at it 🥺😂 Terrifying is one way to put it. I’m also glad that school’s almost over.
    Thank you so much! I’m blown by your kindness!😉💕

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Haha, yeah Covid is pretty universal and impartial 😂 Oh, absolutely! Some seem absolutely fine but then there are a few like me whose voice sounds terrible either way. Glad you could relate!
    Thank you so much for reading, Haley!


  20. Thank you so much, Anna! Aww.. that’s very kind of you to say! ❤️ I’m just a meh girl who overthinks all the time😂
    So happy to hear that!! Thank you so much for reading beforehand too!✨💕


  21. Haha, it’s the worst! Glad it made you chuckle! It’s okay when children do it but then the adults try and it just looks unnatural 😂
    Ahh, I agree! Education is definitely a blessing right now and I’m so grateful I atleast have access to it, no matter how weird it feels.
    Thank you so very much! I sure hope it will!❤️
    Have a wonderful week ahead!


  22. Omg d! I didn’t realise since I was on a hiatus I missed all of your posts! It just clicked my mind oh, is D okay? She has not been posting. And now I realised I haven’t been reading! lol
    Hope all is well at your end

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Exactly, I’m so glad you did a post on this because I’m sure everyone is going through this due to the pandemic.

    No worries! I told my parents that I didn’t want to take part in the virtual college grauduation ceremony and that as long as I meet Def Leppard one day, that’s all I really want. I was supposed to see Def Leppard on tour this past summer (and I had VIP passes too), but covid ruined my chances. Plus it would be too costly to get a cap and gown and drive all the way to the school for something that will be done in a few hours.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. You’re, welcome, and it’s completely true! And you are not meh 😂 don’t say that, girl! You’re amazing! I can relate to the overthinking part tho🤦🏼‍♀️😂 You’re welcome!


  25. How thoughtfully put together, dear. It is like musings or stream of consciousness. It is extremely well done, and the quotes are sooooo timely and appropriately integrated into the whole. Congrats on a lovely piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. This was as captivating as any book I’ve read, D! And that feeling of not knowing how to find what we’ve lost again was so well conveyed…. my heart is aching. Loved reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The school
    remember that
    Grief and misery
    Torture and torment

    with daily training
    the soul
    the diversity
    Shadow and light
    for perusal

    in the landscape
    in the familiar faces
    from then

    one’s own childhood
    whether painful
    or not

    the skin
    of childhood
    with the doubt
    as a tool
    and outside
    break through

    the child is no
    only a chaste white one
    unwritten sheet

    the future is all of us
    im not there yet

    the trouble the hardship
    starts with the toddler
    by not giving him anything
    from inside and outside
    satisfies the needs

    the past
    accompanies this here and now
    the consolation
    must be the adult
    give yourself daily

    Reply To: Introverted Thoughts


  28. Thank you! Wow, I hope you get to meet him one day! I’m sorry Covid messed up your plans so much. I’ve never had a ‘graduation’ because we don’t do that here but I guess I see sense in why you don’t want to go to one. Have a wonderful week ahead, Lana! I hope college is going well!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Haha, that’s absolutely fine, Riya! I’m good, hope you are great too! Congratulations on 100! I’m sorry you had to go through mean comments but take it from someone who’s been through the same, don’t let it get you down. There are many of us who love reading your works and would love to drop a few words of love and support like you do for us. Of course you don’t have to open comments if you’re uncomfortable, but opening them and keeping them moderated should work, I suppose.
    Thanks so much for reading! I so appreciate your support!❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  30. One cannot neglect this, you’ve written it al dear D 👏👏. Funny part is… Voice with the mask… Aren’t we all struggling to hear what the other person say when they have their mask on them??? I really do!!😭😭
    Beautiful write as always.❤️❤️ Hope your studies are going good.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Thanks you so much D! Your support really means a lot to me! Ya I won’t let it bring me down! I don’t think I will open my comments anytime in the future! They just don’t feel good to me anymore! But I also miss them as people like you are so kind!
    Thank you for advising me like my big sister

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I LOVE the way you write. Everything is so relatable and makes me feel like I was there with you. I had just returned to school recently as well. It was definitely hard to adjust back to campus life, having been trapped in the house and doing everything online for such an extensive amount of time, but we’ll get through it. Soon ❤ Love the quotes you added here :))

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I am still stuck with online classes but I feel if it ever does become offline this is exactly how it would feel, this post felt like a glimpse of my future put in words just so that I can be prepared for what is yet to come, and what lies ahead, beautifully curated! Things will just get better hopefully❤

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Thanks! They’re not that old; the oldest member of the band is 63, so hopefully I have some time to see them on tour. Oh that’s odd they don’t do graduations where you’re from. College is going well, thank you! I hope school is going well for you, despite covid. Have a lovely rest of your week!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. My pleasure, D!😄
    Yess! I’m glad to know that!😃
    Yay! I never thought about the fact before you mentioned it in this post, but now I do, and it is something I would miss too.
    My pleasure!💖


  36. Thank you SO much! ❤️ Aw.. I’m happy to hear you could relate; it’s such a conflicting emotion though. That’s great! Oh, I understand that. As much as I loved the flexibility online classes offered, the excessive screen time was not helping at all and I’m almost thankful for regular school.
    I absolutely agree! Thank you!❤️


  37. Thanks so much D! I guess the plus side is you get to celebrate graduation on your own terms! Oh that’s nice you’re on summer break, what do you plan to do all summer?

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Ah, I loved reading this, D. I always walk away from your stories–even the sadder ones–feeling uplifted and inspired. I love the resolution you had at the end and you included so much backstory in this that it felt like I got to see her whole life. ❤ Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. You have no idea how happy this makes me! For a long time, I was afraid of writing about themes like loss or sorrow because I didn’t want to make anyone reading feel bad.
    It means so much to me that you liked this particular write. My pleasure, Jehosheba! Your comment just made my day!! Thank you so very much! ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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