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How Everything And Nothing Can Change At The Same Time

As an RA, one of the coolest parts of the job is watching people grow right in front of your eyes. I’m serious. It happens when you least expect it, and in the smallest ways, but it happens. Growth.

Recently, a bunch of my students have been expressing how crazy it is that first year is almost over. I can’t help but laugh because it only gets faster as each year comes. Going into fourth year, I’ve just come to terms with the terrifying acceleration of time passing.

It gets me thinking about who I was in first year though. Man, was I different, but not as different as I was in grade twelve. My transition from grade twelve to the end of first year… wow. *Cue 2 Chainz “I’m Different”*

I wasn’t an awful person in high school; I was pretty cool. I wish I had believed that back then, but that’s another story. In first year, everything was new and an adventure of some sort. There were so many things to do and try I didn’t know where to start. I just kind of bounced around and did it all. Like many people’s first year of post-secondary education away from home, I was a bit of a hot mess. That being said, I don’t regret a single second of it (okay maybe like one hour of it, but that’s it I swear).

You see, first year was that pivotal time for me to grow. Sure, I experienced personal growth in high school, but being away from my roots gave me the ability to soar. Not every experience was good. There was puking in toilets, staining friend’s sweaters with ugly sobs, and sitting in my room all by myself feeling terrified of the next day to come, but I wouldn’t trade any of those moments for anything because they’ve helped culminate who I am right now. First year was this whirlwind of me figuring out what I thought I needed to figure out. I hit the pause button a lot, and I thought about stuff a lot. I took the time to get to know the girl in the mirror without her safety net of home. It was just me and me, and it isn’t until now that I’ve realized how important that time was for my development. Without my first year being the way it was; without taking all the risks, and making all the mistakes, and achieving all that I did, and failing as much as I did, I wouldn’t have the foundation I have with myself today. I wouldn’t have the desire to maintain it either.

I guess what I’m trying to get at here is, whether it’s your first year, or your second year, or your fourth year, spend that time with yourself. Hit the pause button. Think. Reflect. Make uncharacteristic decisions and then figure out what’s in our character. Build your foundation. Watch it crumble, then build it again. Root yourself to yourself.

Sure there are days when I feel like a puppy stumbling around with paws too big for its body ready to trip at any second, but I know I’ll be able to catch myself. And if I can’t, I know I’ll be able to get up. On the days when I think I can’t, I have my people. They are my ever-important support beams, if you will.

It’s nice to look back at my old self and realize I’m completely different, but at the same time, recognize that what makes me inherently me has always been there and always will be.


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Gabriella is in her third year at Western U studying kinesiology and creative writing.
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