Monday, April 22, 2024
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Back to school blues

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What to look forward to, from someone looking back.



Someone who is 22 years old should really not be in the business of giving advice.

But, well, here we are: just four months removed from having graduated from the University of King’s College, with the world supposedly my oyster and journalism purportedly my bread and butter, but now with nothing for certain other than an apparent expertise in food metaphors. I knew I had to starve before I could feast as far as getting a job; I’d willingly get my toes in doors and reach for low-lying rungs. But I didn’t want to actually starve.

And, again, well, here we are. It’s frosh week at universities across the country, and as if I’m inviting schadenfreude, I’m spending my first year out of school in a province that actually calls itself the university capital of the world.

Caught pretty firmly between career and school, I feel obliged to give my most pressing piece of advice: whether you’re an incoming first year from nearby Truro or cosmopolitan Toronto (but let’s be honest, it’s probably Toronto), or a well-worn veteran of long Killam nights and early Tim’s mornings, savour every moment.

Uh-oh, you must be thinking—this is quickly becoming a clichéd Gilmore Girls episode. Unfortunately, it’s not; I could only wish Lauren Graham was in my life. But believe me when I say that for many, university is the last throes of a dramatically different life than the one you’ll live after it. And graduating changes the very pallor of things you’ve taken for granted for the last years of your life. My unabashed tradition of accessing the incoming frosh class’ Facebook group, recalling what it was like when I, too, was awkwardly posting photos and impressive-sounding captions about myself, is suddenly made stranger when you realize you won’t actually meet any of these people. The daily tradition of already annoying phone calls from your parents becomes far worse when each conversation features at least one subtle dig at your unemployment. And it takes away a structure that you’ve grown accustomed to leaning on: for the better part of your life, you’ve known where you’ll be from September to December, and after a short break, again from January to May. I don’t have to buy textbooks, but I also can’t skip class anymore.

You don’t realize it until it’s gone and it’s changed. And it can be easy to get caught up in university. At the end of each school year, high school or university, there is always the inescapable sense of man, where did the time go?, of the stresses and drama and memories and ecstatic joys blending into a continuum-smashing flash. And it takes an admittedly astonishing amount of willpower to screech the brakes and know just how lucky you are to be where you are.

But do. Do take advantage of every opportunity available to you: you may never find another place where a community so large wants to give you as many opportunities as possible to succeed. Do take pleasure in your successes; do make mistakes. Do not be afraid to look ahead, or even to see what you’ve done over the course of a year.

And at the same time, do not think of these as the ravings of someone who wants to be back in school, or anywhere other than the now.

Instead, let this be a reminder for you to savour the fact that, well, here you are, now—before you’re 22 years old, in the business of giving advice.


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