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Three Things I Learned in My Third Year of University

I never used to be someone who would look back on what I’ve done and reflect on the ups and downs in my life. For a long time, I was taught to “live in the present,” but slowly, I learned that if you’re too focused on this “living in the present” mindset, you might forget many meaningful events. To avoid the situation where you can’t even separate the individual events in the past because they were just a jumble of emotions that can’t be described with words, self-reflection can be a powerful tool as it’s a way for us to learn about ourselves, allow for self-growth, and set goals for the future. So, with my third year coming to an end, I would like to take this opportunity to revisit my memories and thoughtfully summarize them. Hopefully, this little note can serve as a constant reminder for me not to fall back to the old mindset.

1. The right choice is made after a few wrong attempts.

Decision-making is challenging for me. From little things such as, “What do I want for lunch?” to the more important ones like course selection, I’ve always asked for someone else’s opinion and hoped they would decide for me. It felt normal for me to call a friend or my family whenever I was deciding on something so that I didn’t have to go through the painful process on my own. Sounds a little selfish, am I right? I’ve been told that I should decide for myself and not constantly rely on someone else. The switch was extremely difficult for me as it took an unnecessary amount of time to fix that shouldn’t require that much thinking. I’ve made a few wrong attempts and have blamed myself for them. I was too anxious about making the “perfect” decision and overextended my thought process into the future. I realized I need to practice being decisive, starting from the little things, and shouldn’t be scared about not making the wrong choice.

2. Meaningful connections are made by stepping out of your comfort zone.

With covid restrictions lifted, I had more opportunities to meet new people and be involved with different extracurriculars. After not having frequent human interactions for two years, it was a little intimidating to join a new team or club without knowing anyone. As someone who never used to initiate conversations, I constantly stressed about what to say and how to keep the conversations going when meeting new individuals. My eagerness to be more involved on and outside of campus has pushed me to step out of my comfort bubble, and it took a lot of self-convincing to get to where I am right now. The time I spent battling with my inner self-doubt was worth it as I’ve met some incredible individuals, and going to my volunteer place has become something I look forward to every week. My fear of talking to people I’m unfamiliar with has decreased tremendously, and I’m very grateful for taking this little step, as it has already made a significant impact on my life.    

3. Don’t feel bad about finishing a tub of ice cream in one sitting.

My freezer has never been out of ice cream throughout this school year. I’ve noticed my tendency to stress-eating, especially during weeks with multiple due dates back to back. I felt guilty about finishing a tub of ice cream so quickly and refilling the freezer with more constantly. For some time, eating ice cream made me more anxious as I was frustrated with myself for having no self-control. I understand this is a very unhealthy eating behaviour, and I should probably refrain from doing it, but I think we should look at this from a different perspective. We crave something because that’s what our body needs at that moment. We should give what our body wants and work things around it instead of letting it take control of our minds. For example, I started to incorporate more workout days into my routine and track my mental and physical well-being on my phone. After doing these two things for a couple of months, I noticed an improvement in my emotional eating pattern. I started to adopt this healthy coping strategy whenever I was going through a rough time. We shouldn’t feel bad about eating a whole tub of ice cream in one go; what’s more dangerous is doing nothing about this unhealthy behaviour and just letting food dictate your emotions.

Catherine Yu

McMaster '23

Catherine is a second-year McMaster student majoring in Kinesiology, and hopes to minor in Economics. Outside of school, she loves to sing, dance, and go on hikes with friends and family! You will often catch her at the candy aisle in the grocery store.
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