Let’s state the obvious, shall we? We’re finally back on campus! Not sure about you, but I’m as overjoyed as I am overwhelmed. All of the little, daily moments that used to make up my life on campus have returned in full swing. Certain sources of happiness on campus had completely slipped from memory, so I’m left to rediscover their value in real time! Personally speaking, I’m focused on reliving previous joys, while revamping them with the insight the past year has given me. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
What sort of joy am I talking about? Easy. Walks to class.
There’s something about walking to class that has always made me weirdly happy. I have memories, from years before my arrival at Queen’s, of hearing my older cousin call our family members between lectures. She’d squeeze in any updates, questions, or stories for us to hear, all before arriving at her next location. This made me super excited and—in retrospect—quite jealous. I awaited a day-to-day life that was so busy I’d have no choice but to make every minute count. I often found myself daydreaming about what my life would look like on a university campus, and more specifically – who I’d call when it was finally my turn.
When I got to school, I felt very connected to the student I envisioned I’d be. The walks didn’t disappoint, either. I loved being surrounded by students, admiring the atmosphere, and getting some moments to myself. It’s always bizarre to realize you’re living out what was once the subject of your daydreams.
As my day-to-day life changed, so did my daydreams. Suddenly, after my second year of university, I found myself at home. Once again, I was daydreaming about what my life could be like on campus. Lots of my days in remote learning were spent missing, exploring, and envisioning myself on campus. Now I’m back, and it’s more bizarre than it was the first time around.
The pressure to match the expectations I stirred for an entire year is too much. What if I can’t make up for lost time? What if this year doesn’t make me as happy as I thought it would?
If you’re feeling as stressed as I am, I’d like to remind you that our daydreams are daydreams for a reason. It’s much easier to create a pleasant experience when you’re living in your head. As we all know, life can be way more intimidating because of how much is out of our control. ‘What if’ questions cloud us and we end up losing sight of our independence. That said, reaffirming our ability to find joy each day is empowering – at least in my eyes. This is where we can all walk the walk.
We quite literally have a say in how we walk into situations (ie. new beginnings, lectures, etc). Our walks to class matter—they are the windows through which we set the tone for our experiences. Sure, we can’t always control if our professors are critical, or if someone spills coffee on our seat, but we can control which song is blasting in our headphones as we enter the chaos.
Maybe it isn’t a song—maybe it’s a podcast, or a spiritual meditation, or maybe it’s a phone call with your younger cousin who’s experiencing jealousy (in an endearing way). Whatever it may be, I think there is great power in these little moments. After all, the little moments are what shape our final impression of the week, month, or even degree. We so often remove ourselves from the equation that we forget how much we do control.
Well, we’re back on campus. We have to walk the walks either way. My recommendation? Spend the next week being as strategic on these walks as you can. Make the most of them. Pick music that empowers you, call someone who makes you feel good, listen to something that motivates you to be better. Choose the day you want to have and start with small ways you can achieve it on your end. Don’t take the all too easy route of rushing and panicking.
Like I said, we don’t have control over much, but we can still take the steps to make each day the best it can be.