Balance, Career, Classes, Down time, General, Get involved, How-to, People, Places, Profs, Student Life

In Which I Close a Chapter

ALT="My friend looking back standing next to his car"

I’ve finished looking back for now.

It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of the year. I feel like I say this every end of April, but school went by so fast; scarily fast. It seems like just last week I was putting on boots and trudging through the snow– oh wait, that was last week! Jokes aside (though Canadian weather is not a joke sometimes), I wanted to squeeze out one last blog post for the wonderful folks who read my work all year. This blog post will be my advice to you consisting of the 4 most important lessons I’ve learned in my third year at this wonderful university.
First: you are so much more than you think you are. This is not a call to over-inflate egos, or a diminishing of anyone’s sense of self. Rather, what I want to say is that you have the capability to be a part of something bigger than yourself.  I had a conversation with a good friend the other day about moving to the city, and how I liked being in the city because I felt small and that if I wanted to, I didn’t have to see anyone. Her perspective was that she liked the city because she felt like she was a part of something bigger; a puzzle piece in the greater image. Without her, the city would be different, no matter how inconsequential she thought she was or how small she was in the grand scheme of things. I want to tell you that your life, your actions, and your dreams can leave a ripple if you let them. You are not insignificant. You were born to build something; build a home, build a journal, build a community, build a person. The only thing you need to answer is “When?” When will you do it? Take your time. There is no rush. But think about striving higher. I was at first going to run for a smaller executive position on my student council, but then I decided to run for president instead — and won.

ALT="A photo of me thinking"

Me thinking about what I got myself into this upcoming year. It’s more of an anticipation than a regret though!

Second: visit your professors and your registrar. Honestly and completely this is something I wish I did more of this year. Your professors are pretty fascinating people with very fascinating stories if you just take the time to show them you’re interested. I spent the year intimidated by my professors, but I visited one of them and it was a really uplifting experience: I learned that she wasn’t just out-to-get-her-students and that she was just as human as me. She was someone who knew what I was experiencing this year when I was going through a tough time and understood why I had to request more time for assignments. And your registrar? Imagine your registrar as the guidance counsellor you wish you had, or as a magical wizard on campus. My registrar is comprised of lovely people who genuinely care about students and totally understood how I was feeling during tough times. Of course, some won’t be able to answer the questions you need answered, but it is always a learning experience for both parties after a meeting. Take that brave step.

ALT="Me on a payphone with my friend"

Your friends will be there for you — even if it’s just a phone call away.

Third: take note of the people who will be there for you when your life spirals out of control, and treasure them. Show them love unabashedly. Your life will flip upside down and take you for a Wild Ride at least once during your university experience. This year was mine, but the support network of people who took one look at me and knew I was hurting was phenomenal. It made my heart so full knowing that people would be there for me during one of the most difficult times of my life. When this happens to you, and I’m not suggesting that you should go through this but rather that it is very likely that it will, don’t be afraid to let in love from friends. They will be the ones who make going through hardships worth it.

And finally, fourth: it is okay to take a break, go for a walk, reflect and breathe. You are your first priority. You are more important than anybody else in the world. And it’s easy to forget that. Always stay true to yourself and ask yourself if you’re happy. It sounds odd, but having mental conversations with yourself is really helpful. The scenery (I like sitting by the water at the Harbourfront) is always a bonus.

ALT="A photo of me laughing"

Lots of love and laughter and happiness.

It has been a pleasure writing and taking photos for you this year. The team has been brilliant to work with. It’s time for me to close my chapter here at Life at U of T, but if you see me at all during the year, please don’t hesitate to say hi!

Love,
Albert