Students returning to school makes us feel a bit nostalgic.

It makes us think of those simpler times when we thought life was oh so hard. Oh, how we long for those days. We now realize life is much more difficult as an adult. There’s no chance to make excuses to get yourself out of trouble and no way to escape the responsibilities you have. You have to face everything that comes your way and manage to somehow deal with it.

Adulting is hard, and grown-ups know that. But it’s something students in school can hardly wait to see the day of. Especially once they get older and get into middle and high schools, they’d do anything to fast forward to their mid-twenties and get away from school.

I didn’t love school, that’s for sure. It was tough for me in many ways.

I’ve always been wise beyond my years; I was that 4-year-old going on 40. As a child, I would rather hang out with my mama and her friends, my teacher or any other adults than kids my own age. Conversation with kids bored me and I didn’t have much in common with my classmates.

My mama was my best friend — still is — and I always wanted to hang out with her, not kids. Being super shy didn’t help my social game either. Mama put me in gymnastics once and it took me forever to warm up to the kids in my class. Just when I started to muster up the nerve to talk or play with some kids, it was time to go. It was always like that for me.

Mama put me in cheerleading too and I did it for a while but I did not like it. I finally begged to quit. It wasn’t she sheltered me or didn’t push me to be a more social kid because she did. I just didn’t want to do that stuff; it wasn’t my thing.

I hated PE class so much there was a time I made Mama write me a school excuse that said I couldn’t participate due to an injury, and I wore a little ACE bandage on my arm. It’s mortifying — and a bit laughable — to talk about now. I can’t believe I went to that extreme to sit out from playing wiffle ball or dodgeball but it felt so terrifying to me at the time. I couldn’t face it.

When I got to high school and had to take speech class, I truly didn’t think I’d make it through. I had so much anxiety to get up in front of my 20 classmates and give a speech. At that point, I didn’t have any issue talking to people but giving a speech was a different situation; it scared me to death.

What I wish I could’ve known then is everything gets better and easier once you have some practice with it. It’s not my mama didn’t try to instill that in me because she certainly did. “Mama tried” but as many parents know, you can say only so much to change a young person’s mind. Children and teens especially think they know best and there is no changing their minds.

I could not get it out of my head as a child or as a teen those things weren’t the end of the world because to me, they truly felt like it. There was so much fear in me I couldn’t overcome. I wish I could go back and slap myself silly and tell myself to get over it, play at P.E. and rock that speech like it was no big deal.

Looking back at my early school years and my later high school years, I wish I had participated more. I wish I didn’t let ordinary things scare me and prevent me from getting life experience I could use today. I wish I had been less worried and had more fun. That’s what school is about — being a kid and having fun.

To the students reading this, know it’s OK to just be a kid. It’s important to do things that are uncomfortable. That’s how you learn and grow. It’s something I would pay to go back and do more of.

I wish I’d listened to my mama when she told me it wasn’t the end of the world to play at P.E. and my speech would be just fine. I turned out all right, but I could’ve overcome a lot of my fears and had a better school experience had I just opened up and been more fearless.

Don’t be like me, a person who is all done with school for the rest of her life with regrets and a list full of “I wish.” Enjoy school for all it is and know you’re experiencing some of the best times of your lives. Go all in and leave your worries behind. You have plenty of time to worry and be boring once you’re grown. Get involved in a new extracurricular activity and maybe even make friends with people you didn’t talk to the year before.

Cliché as it may be, you’ll miss it someday and someday comes sooner than you think.

Santana Wood is the assistant managing editor of The Outlook.