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“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” And How It Helps My Mental Health

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

When I was a kid, I went to Circle R Ranch every single summer. During the two week sessions, Sunday was always a chill day where we didn’t do the regular camp activities like horseback riding and archery. Instead, we did a session called “reflections,” which was basically a time where we sat, sang, read poetry and tried to ground ourselves while we were halfway through the best weeks of summer as they just flew by.

As a youngster, I hated reflections. Once I hit grade nine, it was one of my favourite things about camp. I look back on the sessions and I remember getting so emotional over them — and I still do. In particular, every reflections, the camp director would read out Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss.

As trivial as it sounds, this is still one of the things that can get me motivated in even the silliest of situations — and the most serious. Every so often, when my mental health gets really bad, I’ll give it another read, think of reflections and something will usually click in my head that I still have a future ahead of me, even if I couldn’t see it before I started reading.

These are some of the passages that I remember off of the top of my head that have really made an impact on me. If you’re struggling with your mental health or even if you just need some motivation, you can read the story for free online here. You never know what might help!

“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.”

This passage in particular has always been one of my favourites. I started struggling with my mental health long before my camp days were over, and part of my struggle is that I always feel like I have to be perfect at everything I do. Whether that’s getting the best scholarship, getting the highest position in that one club or just simply pleasing people, I feel like I have to be the best.

Oh, but I won’t always be the best. None of us will. The sooner that all of us make peace with our failures, the sooner that we can be truly happy. That’s certainly a process, but it’s natural to fail. We see the best parts of others lives, and it can be difficult to remember that we all make mistakes, we just don’t know about others’.

“And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

No matter what a slump actually is in the context, I think the connotations ring true. I’ve been in a mental health slump since second year, and I’ll be graduating this semester. It’s much easier to dig yourself into a hole than it is to climb out of it. Give yourself some slack and remember to give yourself time to just be.

“The Waiting Place. For people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or the waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.”

 If I had to pick a quote that I think of the most, it would be this one. I can still remember it in the camp director’s voice, and it has gotten me out of some of my slumps in the past.

In short, don’t wait around if you want something, especially if you know what you want. It’s your own job to make yourself happy. Apply for that job you want. Take an extra course or go on exchange. Hell, even drop out if you’re dreading going to class and you just want to be done.

Take control of your present and your future because you’re the only one that can.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

I’m no math major, but there’s something to be said about trying in the first place. Even if you do fail, what do you have to lose? You let your mental health consume you or you live despite it.

Though it’s not that simple to put into practice, living a failed life is better than not living at all, isn’t it?

The point of reflections was to stop and enjoy the moment. For those of us fighting battles with the demons in our heads, we always need a little more of that.

Take a minute, reflect on your life as it is now, and get out there.

“So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off the Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!”

Madeline McInnis

Wilfrid Laurier '19

Madeline graduated from the BA+MA program at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2020. In her undergraduate degree, she majored in Film Studies and History with a specialization in film theory. She later completed her Master's of English degree, where she wrote her thesis on the construction of historical memory and realism in war films. If you're looking for a recommendation for a fountain pen or dotted notebook, she should be your first line of contact.
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