I have been on an incredibly long journey, almost 6 years in the making. On April 15th – though technically June 7th and October 16th – that journey ends. And like all journey’s that means another one starts.
I left Wales, the place I’d been living since I was 12, and had completed my Grades 8-13 for many reasons. There was a lot more history there that just stifled me, much of which stems from the fact that I moved back and forth between Wales and Canada every 5 years from the age of 2. I was a shy, brutally anxious, and an ultimately passive girl. I was 18, terrified by the world, and sure that if I stayed in Wales I would never grow. I would be stuck there forever, and thinking about it now I may not have even survived. In my head, I needed to leave, and so I did.
I arrived back in Canada on September 1st 2013. 15 days after my 18th Birthday, and with only a few suitcases to call my own. I had maybe $45 in cash and only about $25 in my bank account. For the most part, my family didn’t believe I’d survive a month and I’d be moving back to Wales. But I couldn’t, I couldn’t let myself go back to a place where I had raised my little sister for 6 years – a mother at 12 basically. And no matter how rude and heartless and demeaning my parents were, I couldn’t let them win.
I took a year off to learn to be in Canada again, it wasn’t my first time making this move, I’d done it five or six times before in my life. But this time I was alone, no parents, no money, as a young adult. I had support, of course, my grandparents gave me a place to live, drove me to places I needed to go, and fed me. Without them, these 6 years would not be possible, I wouldn’t have had enough money or enough time. I owe them so much.
From there, this story really starts. I started at York University in September 2014, moving into my dorm in Bethune and starting my Degree in Environmental Studies.
Honestly, York were some of the best years of my life. I was stressed, but I never failed a class -even though at times things got really close -and I learnt along the way that you don’t have to attend every class, just your labs really. I learnt a lot about myself in my dorm room, a lot about my limits, a lot about my ingenuity. I learnt how to procrastinate …. a lot.
I did a lot when I lived in York – when I lived close to the city. I went camping, I learnt how to use the transit system forwards and back. I got my first real job at High Park as a nature interpreter.
I met my best friend on my first day of Frosh, she and I did everything and went everywhere together. All our classes were together, all our labs. We were not often apart except for overnight. She was a commuter, and I lived on residence. She was fun, eccentric, wasn’t afraid to speak her mind or help anyone she considered a friend. I loved her, and while I cherish those years, later in this education journey we went our separate ways.
Now, between living on residence, then commuting for 2-hours a day, then living in a student house with 3 other friends, I was lucky enough to meet my current partner. We’ve been through hell and back, our relationship since the beginning has been built on solid, uncensored communication and distance. We are going on 3 years together now and I couldn’t be happier. I also made a new best friend, lived with him for a year, and even met him again later. Honestly, his friendship to me has been limitless and priceless.
It was my second year at York that things changed, and my life changed – not that I knew it obviously. York (or the Environmental Studies Faculty) has partnerships with many colleges, a dual credential. Essentially it means that if you attend York for 3 years, and go to the college for 2 years you’ll get both your honours degree and your advanced standing diploma. The only catch – you essentially have to fit three-and-a-half years of your degree credits into 3 years, and two-and-a-half years of your college diploma in two years.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. I cried, bitched, moaned, and almost gave up on a few occasions, but nothing has made me grow faster than this last 5 years. I am an entirely changed person, and I am honoured I was able to go for this opportunity. I will talk more about my time at school specifically another time though.
Fleming was a RIDE let me tell you. ID tests, specimen collections, reports, stream assessments, presentations, interviews, hard-hats, and a thousand more experiences I could never have imagined. Fleming college was an absolute sledge-hammer to my skull and a morale boost I didn’t know I needed. I have grown more in just this last year of school than I have in the four years prior, and THAT growth was substantial. I am a NEW person and the same person. I am the person I want to be and it’s incredible. I’ll be doing a while york-fleming partnership blog post later if anyone is curious.
So, now what? I’m 24 years old this year, I have 5-years of OSAP debt in a province that just decided to screw us over, a credit card full of interest increases, and no job. I have a brain full of ideas and excitement and anxiety, and a whole life of experience to share. I’m going into the Environmental Sector (hopefully) in a province that is currently cutting-back all the green programs that promised me jobs, and with a neighbouring country whose leader doesn’t even believe in Climate Change.
So this is my new series. A series of a new-graduate trying to figure out life. I’ll be moving in with my partner of almost-three years soon, trying to find a job. I’ll have to make decisions about my car and about all my stuff, and about where I see the next few years of my future.
My updates will be sporadic, but I’m hoping to put links to all the sources I use, places I draw inspiration, and people who guide me along the way. Who knows, maybe this will turn into a ‘how-to survive graduation and the adult world we don’t want’.
So, I hope you tag along for this While life, maybe we’ll learn something along the way.
Be gentle with yourself,