Life @ U of T

Introduction

What Will “Success” Be for Me in My Fifth Year?

What Will “Success” Be for Me in My Fifth Year?

Back in October, I wrote about the changing faces of success. Since this semester is almost done (and since this is my last post here), I figured that this would be a good chance to add onto what this evolving creature named “success” might look like as I enter my fifth year.

An image of me overlooking Lake Wahnapitae during an experiential Indigenous learning program. Caption: What success has looked like for me this year. Photo courtesy of Kristen Bass
What success has looked like for me this year. Photo courtesy of Kristen Bass

Let me start by recapping what success has been for me in my previous years:

First-year me was all about getting the grades…

Second-year me felt that success was about finding personal direction…

Third-year me was completely obsessed with bulking up her resume….

And, fourth-year me (me now) has been trying to take in as much of the university experience as possible.

All four of these things will continue to exemplify and represent success to me in the coming year, but they’re also things that I’m not as worried about anymore, and I feel that they’ll fit in naturally as I go along.

So, what do I think will make me feel “successful” in my fifth year?¬†Independence and self-trust (as vague and clich√© as it sounds).

An image of some kale seedlings during an event for the group I co-coordinate. Caption: Feeling successful at the sight of kale seeds thriving. Yay spring!
Feeling successful at the sight of kale seeds thriving. Yay spring!

Thirteen months from now, I’ll be graduating. It’s a bit daunting to think that I’ll be ringing in the new decade around the time I’ll be opening up a new chapter in my life. It takes self-trust and honesty with oneself to recognize what works, what doesn’t, and when to take chances. Transitioning into the so-called “real world” doesn’t look very easy, but I’m learning to approach every challenge as a learning experience and at least as a potential source for funny personal anecdotes to tell at parties.

Independence is the second part to this version of success. Independence means a lot of things: on one hand, it means “adulting,” but there’s an interpersonal component to it as well. Despite having shared the mantra, “don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm,” I’m starting to realize that maybe I don’t always practice what I preach.

An image of setting up at the Undergraduate Research Forum. Caption: Taking an ROP course was one thing that made me feel successful this year
Taking an ROP course was another thing that made me feel successful this year

I’ve been subconsciously trying to gain approval from a family member who doesn’t really respect what I study. I know for a fact that other students may be in the same boat: they have family members who don’t approve of what they study, or maybe their families are pushing them to study things that they have no interest in whatsoever. It sucks.

When I finally realized, “hey, *insertfamilymemberhere* doesn’t seem to get why I’m a student,” I was initially very bummed out and took it personally. (how can you not?!?) But now I’m realizing that it’s not me, it’s them. And that a big part of success is being able to recognize that you get to own your successes. Sometimes, people in your life will want to share your feelings of success with you, and that’s awesome. And sometimes, people in your life won’t see success the same way as you, and that’s OK too. Everyone needs boundaries.

Success for fifth-year me will be having the self-trust and confidence to make decisions, but also knowing that I can make decisions for myself on my own. I’m predicting that I’ll keep using U of T as a way to build myself up, and as a way to meet like-minded people who want to make positive impacts on their communities. I say: bring it on!

A group photo of this year's Student Life Community Crew, which was taken as part of the #JoyatUofT social media campaign. Caption: One of the biggest sources of feeling successful this year.
One of the biggest sources of feeling successful this year

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This is my final post on Life @ U of T as blogger for Academic Success. I’m incredibly grateful to have been given this chance to reflect and share with members of the U of T community. Have an amazing summer, and don’t forget to check back here in June for brand new posts. Thanks for reading!

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