“Just Keep Swimming”

Fun fact: first years are almost done with their first semester of university classes.

Um….what???

Yes, it’s true. We’ve been at UTM for quite a while now. For many of us, exams are not the only evaluations we face. Whether we realize it or not, we all came to university with some ideas about what it would be like or what we would do when we got here. Well, now that we’re here and we have settled in to some degree, a lot of us go back in our minds to our pre-uni selves and evaluate our time here so far. Where did you see yourself? Are you there? Are you even close?

One piece of advice that I got from a billion and six different people was to really take advantage of all that would be available to me in university. Somewhere in my mind, that made me think that I should and could do literally everything. I would join a bunch of different clubs (I did join some), be active in campaigns around campus (not really), spend time reading about interesting subjects apart from my classes in the library (nope), go to the gym (nope), cook food (haha, that’s funny), have my readings/assignments done well in advance and not have to stay up late doing them (that’s even funnier), make lots of friends who I spend a lot of time with (I have made quite a few friends…but we don’t spend as much time together as I had imagined university students would), and do really well in my classes (so far, I have). The overall verdict? I’m definitely not where I had hoped to be.

But that’s ok.

Unless you’ve worked in a circus, you probably can’t juggle that many things at the same time, anyway, so this self-evaluation should definitely not be pass/fail. Heck, I say throw your “should be” ideas out the window, at least for now. It may feel like we’ve been here a long time, but in reality we’re just starting out. Focus on things one at a time and try not to lose yourself along the way. If you manage to do that, you deserve an award for “achievement as a first-year”. It’s very likely that you’ll learn a lot more than just what is taught in your classes during your first year.

If you’re feeling like you’re exactly where you had hoped to be, kudos! If you don’t, I hear you! But take a step back and really think about the last few months. I guarantee that you will find some differences between pre-uni you and current you. Maybe you learned how to study more effectively, or how to be “social” (what’s that?), or that university is really not at all what you thought it would be. Realizing this stuff is an accomplishment in itself.

This is one of the weirdest times in your life. You’re young, but you’re an adult. You’re supposed to be responsible, but you’re also really, really allowed to get things wrong as you try to figure it all out. So what should you do in all of this?

In the vastly profound words of Dory in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming!”

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