The best-spent year that I could ever imagine

Writing my first-ever blog post for lifeatuoft has been difficult. Really difficult. As a fourth-year, everything seems like my last – my last frosh week, my last chance to take those courses that caught my eye in first year, and – much to the concern of my friends and family – my last chance to “add a third major…. it will be so awesome and I can finish it this year, I promise!

In the wake of all of these endings, there seems to be a chain of beginnings: my first “real” job search, my first taste of the ‘freedom’ of ‘adult’ life, and my first chance to really carve out my place in this world. Before I approach any of these things, however, I feel like it is important to consider what I truly crave from my final year at U of T.

In the past three years, I’ve left my small hometown, learned ballet, debated at Yale, lived on the other side of the world, created meaningful scientific research, and learned to speak an obscure foreign language. I need look no further than my Facebook news feed to be amazed, on a daily basis, by the things my friends from school are up to. Studying political theory in France? Working for an NGO in Africa? Learning Indonesian… in Indonesia? Computationally modelling the cellular interactions of our very own bodies? Just another day at U of T! ;)

This school gives us the intellectual space to give and take and create and dream and debate and (admittedly) sometimes struggle, fail, or change our plans. So how do we know when we’re finished – how do we know when we’ve absorbed every possible benefit from our student experience in such a way that after graduation we continue to live the kinds of lives we’ve created here?

The truth is, I don’t know. Since I will be finished my degree requirements in May, I am supposed to walk across the stage in Convocation Hall and right out the door into the great big world outside. Realistically, I’m probably ready. The world is intensely exciting – perhaps now more than ever. There’s a part of me, though, that knows I never did research for CitizenLab, or danced as it rained in King’s College Circle, or marched with the Lady Godiva Memorial “Bnad”, or did anthropological fieldwork, or joined the Underwater Club. There are still experiences I want to have and friends I want to make before I leave.

I hope that my readers and fellow bloggers are a part of this. I hope that we can accept that we are not our majors, that doing something because it will “look good on a resume” completely dodges the point in doing anything at all, and that there is a direct correlation between how afraid you are of trying something and how much you’ll grow if you go for it. I guess it starts, for me and everyone else, by committing to be braver and more interesting than who we ever thought we could be.

So, what’s your U of T “bucket list”?
I’m still writing – and rewriting – mine.

- Jennifer

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