This Explains Everything

It’s now autumn, the time of year where everything is changing around you. The leaves are crisply turning yellow above your head while you remain stagnant and afraid that you’re stuck in a loop thicker than the textbooks piled on your desk. No matter how exciting it is to feel your sweater tickling your back, there’s always this looming feeling in the trees that asks you over and over again, “Well… what’s next? What’s next after this?” It’s a scary thought, and no matter how often you push it in the back of your mind, it will always find a trap door and present itself to you at the most inconvenient times – most likely at 2 am at night when you’re attempting to sleep. Whether you’re in your first or last year of university, it’s very difficult to enjoy the “now” aspects of your educational experiences when you’re only ever expected to instantaneously answer what’s happening next in your life. The truth is: no one ever knows what’s next, and that’s okay.   

 

Sometimes, people are lucky enough to already have a vague idea of what they want to do with their lives. People have told you that they’re only in their certain program because they can’t really see themselves doing anything else. The truth is, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Too often we’re pushed into ‘moving with the pack’ outside of grade 12 to abruptly starting university. It’s thought to be taboo to take a year off to determine our interests or to save money for the ridiculous costs of tuition. What some older generations don’t understand is that in order to answer their questions about our futures, we need to first focus on why we’re here in the first place.

Those moments where you’re finally able to just stop for a moment and watch a sunset on your way home from campus explains everything. The way you whisper to yourself to take a break from studying to go out and get frozen yogurt with a few friends tells you why you’re here. The truth is, the memories you make in university hold the encouragement to completing your degree. When you’re 40 years old with a stable job, looking back onto your university life, the most valuable thoughts are the colours that you remember while hiking up the Gatineau hills, not how you colour coded your study notes. Your highlighted moments will be walking back from parties with friends at 3am instead of the key terms in your notebook surrounded by neon yellow.  I’m not saying that studying is unimportant and organization is unnecessary, but while looking at the big picture, in-the-moment stresses and anxieties should be soothed with Cacao 70 breaks and impromptu cake baking.

The most satisfying way to enjoy your university experience is to balance it out with the idea that you’re allowed to explore and have adventures on the side. Yes – you’re there for a reason: to get your degree. But in order to do so, you have to be willing to maybe not know where you’re going in life for a while. If you have a scheduled life constantly telling you where to go and where you’ll end up, it’s difficult to see the other possibilities that will guide you down the path you want to end up on, but with much more appreciation regarding how you got there. When someone asks you where you want to end up, how about we just take one step back, proudly smile, and say “who knows?"


 

Cover Photo: Jesse Lesniowski