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My four years are up

All the cliched life lessons that turned out to be true. (Photo by Amin Helal)
All the cliched life lessons that turned out to be true. (Photo by Amin Helal)

Four years at university. In one way it’s another level in the perpetual cycle of education. Like grade school, like high school, a beginning, middle and end, a narrative of knowing nothing to knowing “everything,” beginning at each new institution like a little fish in a progressively bigger pond. But it’s amazing the way a place can start to feel small, isn’t it?

At this point in our lives, we are, as a prof I was having coffee with said, still malleable, not fully certain, not fully shaped. At least for myself, I know this to be true. The things I’ve learnt in the past four years have often left me looking back at my frosh-week self with a sense of nostalgia. I didn’t know shit then, and man, it sometimes just feels like life was a lot simpler. And I’m not just talking about laundry and dishes, although I am talking about laundry and dishes.

That same professor compared life before you learn about yourself away from home to a minefield.

“My life is still like a minefield,” I told her, “I just have a better sense of how to navigate it now, but you know, sometimes things were easier when I just ran and stuff blew up around me.”

In reality, I’m not really sure I agree with my own statement. It doesn’t make much sense now that I write it down, and the truth is I’m not 100 per cent sure life was any simpler. It could easily be a trick of memory.

But school has been cool. It’s been a big part of the independent-life experience and it’s been an invaluable education. In some ways it’s defined me. Switching into English, a subject that I was not only interested in or good at, but passionate about, was the best decision of my academic career. The professors I’ve had have inspired me, they’ve pushed me, and they’ve taken the time to sit down for coffee or beers and just talk. We all need role models, and it’s good to have friends with a few years on us who have it a little bit more together than we do. They taught me what cliché is, like: “you miss all the shots you never take,” which, as it turns out, is true. And while not all the decisions I’ve made have left me happy, they’ve all taught me something; and while sometimes I regret, most of the time I’m glad that I know what I know.

Moving forward, beyond this school, and in a few months beyond this city, to a place and time that is for the first time since kindergarten undefined, these are some of the things I’ll take with me: dating your best friend might actually be a great idea; often it’s good to reflect on what you already have; think about things before you do them, your actions affect other people; once you break a promise, you can’t just “go back to like it was before;” don’t ever live with your ex, you will both hurt each other; find adults who you respect and talk to them; drugs aren’t as bad as we’ve been told; addiction is a real thing, you might just be calling it habit; make friends who know your faults and who you can talk to honestly; never stop reading; pursue what you love; clichés are okay in your student newspaper; and I’ve reached my word count, but the list goes on…

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