With the Student Life Community Crew, The Ethics, Society and Law Students’ Association, The Underwear Club, Work-Study at the School of Public Policy and Governance, a service learning placement in the winter and a more-than-full course load—to say that I’ve got a lot on my plate this year is an understatement. On top of that, I have to be at the hospital on a daily basis. Long story short, my dad will be in the hospital recovering from a double stroke/anoxic brain injury for most likely the entirety of my final year at U of T. Things are not as scary as they were in August, but everything really is still up in the air. I fit in two-hour hospital shifts before or after commutes to school and more on weekends. My dad is my main priority right now and I just don’t care how much sleep or LSAT prep time I lose during hospital visits.
He is such a crucial reason for all of my accomplishments and why I am the way I am. If it wasn’t for him, I would have dropped out of university October of first year when I got my first D on a written reflection. He used to bring me home-cooked meals downtown almost every day from first to third year, took me on shopping sprees whenever I had an identity crisis in 1st year and had a pep talk ready for every single time I fell off the raging bull that is university life.
So now, I am having the hardest time carrying on with my university life when he needs me so much more than I have ever needed him. I find myself crying on commutes, dozing off in class and just emotionally confused. Just last Thursday I had to wing a presentation and a quiz in class because I just did not get any sleep for two days after finding out about a minor setback in his recovery and crashed the night before. If you follow my Twitter, you know how petrified I am of formal public speaking. My anxiety was off the chain during that presentation, but I got it over with and that’s what matters!
I’ve learned that so much of living is contained in feeling. It is so important to allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling in order to not only learn more about yourself, but also gain insight into the human condition. Especially in university, when you are trying to unearth your “Youness” in a sea of otherness. So I spent the entire week in a state of reflective withdrawal and talk-therapy to figure stuff out.
Through GO bus reflections, I learned that I am struggling with smiling through the day and acting like everything is okay—in class, in meetings and with friends. So I spoke with all of my professors about my situation. Allowing random absences because of emergencies, due-date extensions because of inability to focus and just general “you are not alone” kind of support is what my professors have to offer me. For that, I am so grateful! I feel uncomfortable with using my dad’s issue as an excuse but I know there will be times where I will need it and knowing my professors are on my side is an amazing feeling.
The most beautiful part about this journey is how much support, love and strength the U of T community has provided me in the last two months. Whether it is in the form of fellow club executives taking some of my workload for a bit, uplifting text messages from the Community Crew or encouraging tweets or Facebook messages, the people of U of T have really held my hand throughout this whole process. I cannot imagine having to go through this process without all the communities I am a part of at U o f T.
Just last Tuesday, I had to get ready at the hospital (haven’t showered for days, just a straight up hot mess with eyeliner on my shirt) and go to school to run my first event as President of the ES&L SA. I went to school with tears ever so near, and after the meeting I just felt REALLY good. Facilitating friendships, making meaningful connections and increasing engagement just felt SO good. I can’t describe with words the feeling you get when you are in a room buzzing with positive energy, full of lovely people and no social barriers. Just community. Its something you have to feel first hand to really understand.
I could easily drop all my extra-curriculars, my work-study, my extra service-learning course and postpone the LSAT to focus just on my courses and graduating but let’s face it…my dad did not raise a quitter! The most important thing he has ever taught me is that the eagle NEEDS opposing winds to soar. The smile on his face when I told him I got so many job offers for work-study positions and how successful the General Meeting went was priceless! And he raised his fist in the air to show solidarity in writing the LSAT next weekend.
I am going to take this year one week at a time and I will not give up. I am going to work harder than ever and do everything I can for a brighter future!
If anyone out there has the same struggle, know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Talk to your registrar and they will speak with your professors or show you potential sources of support and resources!