Learning to Let Go
I cannot think of a way to summarize everything that has happened in the last year because I’m still not totally convinced it wasn’t all some fever dream and I’m going to snap back into reality one day and desperately try to tell everyone about it like Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz.
This has been a year that has exceeded and subverted my expectations in every way. If I could tell my first year self about everything that I would experience in my fourth year of university, I don’t know if she would laugh or cry.
If this year has taught me anything, it’s that plans do not equal permanence. I went on exchange to England in September expecting to stay only 4 months. By October, I had extended that to 10 months. By March, that number was shortened to 7 months.
This time last year, I thought I would be graduated by May 2020. Now that date is May 2021. I thought I would only have one co-op under my belt, now I’m hoping to have three. I was telling everyone that my plan was to go to law school after graduation. Now… well, I’m still sorting that out. But I came to realize I wanted to go into law because it seemed like a safe bet, not because I actually wanted to be a lawyer.
I’ve always been obsessed with being in control of my life. I believed that if I worked hard and planned every single detail of my being, it would be the closest I could get to a crystal ball that would show me my future. Because if I planned ahead and thought of every “what if” scenario, I would be ready for anything. But even a crystal ball wouldn’t have helped me with all the change I was about to experience, especially with my exchange being cut short due to COVID-19.
I think back to plans A through Z I had made for my life, and none of them looked like what I’m doing now. At first, that made me feel like a complete failure and utterly terrified. Not only was this uncharted terrain, but I was stuck in a foreign country during a pandemic and trying to organize my life through emails and carefully orchestrated phone calls to match time zones.
Leaving England in a rush was stressful, I was uncertain if I would be able to find a job for the summer, and I had no idea what the next academic year would look like. On top of all this, I moved back home with my parents for the first time in four years.
Seeing the bright side of things felt impossible, and I grew frustrated with myself for not being grateful for arriving home safely and for my family’s health. I knew other people had far bigger problems, but it was easier for me to dwell on everything that had gone wrong in my life and to feel sorry for myself.
Gradually, I realized the error in my thinking and had to go back to the life plan drawing board. Except, I couldn’t really make a new plan for the near future because everything was uncertain. Instead, I had to learn to be adaptable and persistent. I applied to so many different jobs, sent countless emails, signed up for summer classes, and began doing research about graduate school requirements.
It’s now been two and a half months since I’ve been back in Canada, and I feel like I’ve finally found a rhythm. I’ve grown to accept that nothing I plan is set in stone and that life is subject to change. I’m trying to take it one day at a time. I am trying to express gratitude for even the smallest of victories.
I think we can all agree that there are times when it feels like everything is going wrong at once. There are days when you just need a good cry and a big hug. But if you keep going and keep trying, there will be a solution.
When things feel hopeless, know that you’re not alone and it’s okay that you don’t have everything figured out. It will come with time and we have our whole lives ahead of us.