Dear Fourth Year Me,
I know, you made it! Lucky for you that Mayan Calendar-end-of-the-world thing was just a phase right? As you gear up to say goodbye to what were the most eventful years of your young adulthood, let’s try to keep a few things in mind for the crazier ride ahead. First and foremost: You are not Arya venturing into Harrenhal. I know it seems like you are, but you aren’t. Before you let the pool of panic consume you, let’s think back to your last three years and figure out a few things.
Remember, no amount of doom and gloom could rain down on your favorite happy place, so during moments of hardship make your way there for much-needed moments of calm.
Outbursts exhibiting your best “crazy” face really won’t be necessary this year, and there is simply no need to scare the new froshlings about the future either (froshlings is an acceptable term since hearing “class of 2017” will make you feel old, very old).
Secondly, you’ve probably realized that even if you wanted to escape the incoming batch of hives you feel after hearing the words internship, law school, real world or future, you can’t. These are just words that, as you’ve learned, carry more emotional weight than they need to, but don’t let them take more of a toll on you than they should. I feel like you’re panicking even as you read this! While I don’t encourage you waltz your way through your last year without any whims of what you’d like to do in the future (because a plan is always good), feeling the pressures of future plans can be more all-consuming than the plan itself. Be the Nik Wallenda of keeping ambition and anxiety in check for fourth year. A careful balance always wins.
Then there is the habit you picked up in first year (thanks Wikipedia) which also helped centre things during times of duress: biographies! You’ve read enough biographies to know that a person’s career is rarely a straight-edged narrow path, but instead is a road full of a million different turns, cities, not-so-great to incredible experiences and hard lessons. Senor Chang actually started out as a doctor before realizing his real dream, remember?
Walt Disney was fired from a job for not being creative enough and Hilary Clinton was once a Republican. None of these paths were very stagnant or matter-of-fact, and were clearly filled with obstacles along the way. Not to mention, you know as well as anyone that there’s still time to find (or not find) a passion, figure out a personal focus, and more importantly to allow change to happen.
Do stop and appreciate your campus for what will be some of your very last times as an undergraduate. How many other times in your life will you need to rush through beautiful Queen’s Park to get to a lecture? Or spend hours reading about Edward Said in the Rhodes Room? Or even more hours spent with your favorite people in the backdrop of a campus ranked #1 in Canada – oh how that saying will always sound like sweet music to your ears!
There may have been plenty of sweat and tears involved, but all of those hours spent at the library, every moment of dedication and hard work, alongside all of the countless times you gave that essay every fibre of your intellectual being, was in the grand scheme of things a very long process that shaped your very identity. The end results are visible in who you are going to be as you leave the U-of-T-verse for the real thing, taking all of the hard lessons learned along the way (because even ROSI was able to teach you many things; namely patience and organization).
As you approach life on the other side, if there is anything you have gained from being here, it’s that you were here long enough to know that you could leave with:
a) your soul intact
b) enough memories and tagged pictures on Facebook to last a lifetime
c) knowing that, future endeavours aside, this place will always be your first love.