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Why not giving up meant giving up on University

​At the end of August, I found myself to be making a wobbly exit from a tumble drier sort of year. After somersaulting and tripping through an endless cycle of turbulence, I’d come out stiffer, starched, and deeply wrinkled- though, institutionally clean. I was very much not in the headspace for big questions concerning my future. During grade 12, I'd gone from crinkling to cracking. But since it was grade 12, that meant it was time for everyone to ask– "What next?", "Where next?". I wanted to have answers for them. I wanted to be better for them. They were trying to be nice, they were just trying to get to the bottom of these abnormal twists and turns I seemed to be taking. I suppose what’s at the “bottom”, would be me. Plain me. Without layers, obstacles, and cookie cutter answers that block the truth. If they get down there, I sure hope they tell me what’s left, I have no idea! To be able to function day to day- I don’t sit with what’s “at the bottom” of me. I can’t. At this point, that place seems terrifying! But, I needed some sort of answer for these people!

And even scarier, I needed a place to go. University seemed as logical a choice as any. So in a last minute decision, a week before the term began, I told myself– “I’m gunna have to go to King’s”. I needed a path to follow, and this was one that supplied a set route, hiking boots and a comprehensive map to follow. So I followed.

Within a week, I was on a plane from Montreal to Nova Scotia. A week after that, I was on a plane from Nova Scotia to Montreal.

Uh oh. Is that really how university is supposed to work? It’s how it worked for me. I took that comprehensive map supplied by Kings and over one week, I :

toured Halifax with mixed feelings on a grey day

toured Nova Scotia with elated WOW feelings on a bright blue day

toured Halifax in deep wrenching sobs on a pale white morning

toured Kings university nodding and nodding and “yes”-sing and telling myself I’d be fine

watched the class group message fly on without me

met the nicest possible roommate

decorated the nicest possible room

turned through the “first book”(Gilgamesh- literally, the first book), made those underlines

grabbed a large coffee to accompany me to my first lecture

Sat in my first lecture, and... lost control of my brain, ears and common sense

I then veered right off the King’s comprehensive trail and reverted on a very direct and very straight shortcut back to life, mid tumble drier

I was suddenly feeling completely prepared for something that should definitely not be normal, but is a "normal" option in my mind far too often.

I fought that feeling by texting an unsuspecting, and faraway friend

I realized that if I felt I needed out, so strongly, so quickly I would let myself get out. But only if I used getting out as a way to find an "in".

My foundational grounding just wasn’t strong enough yet. Too much of me still lived it’s days at "the bottom" of it all. So my blurry brain pieced together some sort of compromise.

I decided that there must be some other way. I needed some other way. I’d tried this way. I’d tried the high school schedules, the rules, the expectations and the resentments that this comprehensive map of study had guided me through. I’d been lost on it before and it should be no surprise its steeper university version was also not for me.

So I packed. So I withdrew, refunded and re-thought the pre planned hiking trip that most take, and I’ve started again. At the end of August, I was directionless and confused, and that’s exactly where I find myself again right now. Not because of mental illness, not because of a learning disability, not even because I’m young and trying to find that “right” path. But because I’m human, and I struggle, feel lonely, get lost and want to learn. I might never find a path that connects back to the main one everyone else seems to be on, but there will always be humans all around, experiencing very different paths but very similar feelings. And it takes us all, all of the journey to know how to be alive, so we might as well live it as we make our varied ways.

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