Graduation, bring it on!

It’s been four years—four years of hustle, tears, and a ton of prayers. I don't know about the rest of you fourth years, but graduation’s seeming pretty nice right about now, and we’re only three weeks into the semester.

That is, until a couple of days ago. That’s when I found out that based on the courses I’m currently taking (and need to take in order to actually graduate from my program), I don’t meet the requirements for teacher’s college, which was my proposed plan of action until now. The details aren’t important. What is important is that for a while it seemed like all of that hard work was for nothing. I started imagining how ashamed my parents would be when I would have to move back in with them. I started thinking about how all those years of working in retail and food service would finally come in handy because at least I had experience for a job. That is what employers want from recent graduates, right?

But then, after a copious amount of stress eating and an online quiz telling me I’m an optimistic person, I decided to look on the bright side.

I decided to dig down deep inside my soul and try to understand what I really wanted. I recalled the career counselling sessions I had in third year at the Western Student Success Centre, which I highly recommend, by the way. Based on a few tests and a few more crying sessions, I was told that I like order and stability, and I like to work with people while also liking my own space. But one of the most important things that my counsellor helped me realize is that I was so focused on pleasing everyone by presenting them with a daughter, a sibling or a friend who was successful that I had stopped trying to figure out what I wanted.

I left those appointments with a renewed mind and spirit, sure that I had chosen teaching as my goal because that’s what I wanted for my life. But then, something weird happened. My mom started telling the extended family that I was going to be a teacher and that I would be perfect for that job. I hated it when she told people and I always responded by telling them I hadn’t really figured it out yet, even though I thought I had. I blamed it on never wanting my mom to be right, but realizing that teaching wasn’t even an option anymore got me thinking.

Maybe I never wanted to teach. If I’m honest with myself, the only reason I planned on teacher’s college was that it was risk-free (Ironic, right?). I mean risk-free in the sense that there’s currently a need for teachers in Ontario, and once I got a job in a school, I figured the chances of me retiring in the same school were high, meaning no more career changes and no more job interviews because that stuff’s stressful. There was no passion hiding in this life decision.

And, it only took an afternoon for me to get over the news and make new plans. Usually, I at least cry for a couple of days and speculate what I would tell Ellen DeGeneres one day about all of the struggles I’ve had to deal with in order to reach the massive success I achieved.

But this time, it didn’t happen. I immediately rallied my resources and like an online-test-certified-optimist, I listed my possible options: doing a fifth year, entering the workforce, or applying for a different program. There was a version of me not too long ago that would never consider the first two options as valid. After all, I did have my life planned out by the year.

But something from my career counselling appointments stuck with me. My counsellor once told me the job market isn’t what it used to be. You don’t have to stick with one career path your whole life; instead, you can change your mind as often as you like, allowing you to take risks and try new things. With that thought in my mind as a comforting pillow, I decided that I would follow that advice and just see where time takes me. Not everything needs to be as stressful as we make it to be. Sometimes, you really can just watch Friends and let those assignments sit for a few hours.

Because people are wrong. You don’t only have one chance. You have many—so take a few.

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