A Push in the Right Direction: How I Found Myself

They say everyone has a moment of clarity, an “aha!” moment, an epiphany. There’s a time in everyone’s life when the right path becomes apparent, and it’s crucial to seize this moment. This can be anything, from something simple like what to eat for lunch, to something more serious like where to live. My “aha” moment was when I was laying on the cold concrete, late on a Monday night in December 2015. The rain was gently tapping on my skin. My glasses and purse lay across the street. My moment of clarity had literally hit me in the form of a transport truck. All I could think was:

What am I doing with my life?

Things began innocently enough. There was a book signing session for Margaret Atwood by the Queensway in Toronto, and I, being a superfan, decided to go. I had an exam the next day, so I printed out my study notes and reviewed them along the way, all while cursing myself for not bringing headphones to listen to the lectures. The entire store was buzzing with excitement, filled to the brim. Over the next two hours, the line slowly shuffled along while I posted frequent Facebook updates. I was one of the last people to get to the signing, so the store slowly emptied itself as I got closer. Meeting Margaret Atwood was a dream come true. The store closed shortly after my autograph, and I stepped outside to go home. It was cool and raining, and I only had a thin jacket on. As I walked, I saw my bus drive past me, splashing in puddles along the way. Instead of waiting another forty minutes in the miserable weather for the next bus, I decided to grab some fries from a McDonald’s up ahead. This turned out to be the best and the worst decision of my life.

The pedestrian crosswalk flicked white, calling me forwards to cross. One meter across. The traffic beside me whizzed by. Two meters. Why did things suddenly get so quiet? Three meters. I looked to my right, and to my horror, the massive grill of a transport truck loomed over me.

Oh my god. I thought. I’m going to be hit. 

Before I could brace myself, I was struck with such force that I was thrown 15 feet before landing in the gutter. My eyes were closed and everything was silent.

Is this death? Am I dead? I was left alone with my thoughts, trapped in purgatory. Wake up. I told myself, refusing to believe that I died mere weeks before Christmas. This was my story, my life, and it would not end at that moment. Slowly, I opened my eyes and watched the distant lights. I was okay. I asked myself what I was doing with my life. I just got hit by a truck and was somehow okay. Now what?

Photo by

Zhifei Zhou

on

Unsplash

Up until that moment, my life had been determined for me. I often said I wanted to be a lawyer, and my parents were so thrilled, that I felt trapped. I didn’t know what to study for pre-law, so I haphazardly selected English literature with little exploration or understanding of the majors. I lived in Thunder Bay when not in school, and I greatly missed my partner, friends, and the lifestyle of southern Ontario during the summer. My family fully expected me to follow family tradition and move back to Thunder Bay to settle down. I was incredibly unhappy and felt that I was living my life for others. The idea of becoming a lawyer left a sour taste in my mouth, and while I decently enjoyed the literature aspect of my major, I hated linguistics. While home held a special place in my heart, I felt there was nothing it could offer me then.

Waiting for the ambulance was complete chaos. To me, everything was completely silent. I was so absorbed and focused on what happened that I heard and felt nothing. I could have died without being my own person. I would have left the world as a false person, hiding behind a mask of my own making. The paramedics arrived and told me I was lucky to survive. Even though I didn’t feel that at the time, I now realize how incredibly fortunate I was. I was given a second chance at life, and it was my time to grab it. As I was strapped into the stretcher, I decided I was going to change my life and live for myself, starting with dropping linguistics. I had been blessed and I’d be a fool not to take this opportunity to change my life.

The accident snapped my collarbone and left me severely bruised.  My best friend picked me up from the hospital and I wrote my exam the next day. My partner cared for me until I flew home for Christmas, and my mother cried from happiness when she saw me. When I told my family I was unhappy, they supported me 100% and helped me in any way they could. I changed my major to professional writing, dropped linguistics, and allowed myself to explore career options. Moving took more time, but I am now sitting in my apartment with my partner and our three pet rats. While I still have more to discover about myself, I’m on my way to self-discovery.

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

I don’t know if everything happens for a reason, but my accident did. Trying to get those fries was awful due to the pain and trauma that ensued, but I am grateful for the epiphany and the renewed desire to live life fully that this experience granted me. Since the accident, I’ve been constantly preaching to people how important it is to do what you love and be honest to yourself. There might not be a tomorrow, so why be trapped doing something you’re not happy with? Taking this path may not always be easy. For me, it meant leaving Glendon and my friends there to attend the Keele campus. It forced me into a place of uncertainty about my career, and I miss my family and hometown fiercely. I wouldn’t, however, change this. This is what I want to do, and where I will go in life.

Life is precious and beautiful. We only get one, and there’s no time to pigeonhole yourself into somewhere that makes you unhappy. Find out what you love to do, and do it. Don’t be like me, and wait to get hit by a truck to change your life for the better.