Working Through the Tough Times

Putting your best foot forward in any situation, regardless of the nature of the scenario, is always the best step to take. I’m not at my best right now. College is a miserable place for someone like me. I’m being force-fed a doctrine that I don’t agree with and can’t dispute without fear of retaliation. However, I’m making an effort every day.

Life is always perfect. You can’t always be around people that want to hear your ideas or share their own, but you can always work towards getting to that place. Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and wade through some thick mud, but you have to keep moving forward. If I were to stop now, I would really be stuck. I’d be sinking deeper and deeper into a pit that I despise.

One step at a time.



Whenever I find myself in a situation where I am consistently unhappy, the first thing my mother will ask me is “have you been going to ballet?”

It’s a funny question to ask a distraught college student, but for me it makes all the difference. Ballet exhausts me, but in a good way. It’s the kind of exhaustion that feels earned and valuable. That kind of tired feet, aching back, prideful smile exhaustion. Sure, it still hurts, but you wouldn’t have it any other way.

I went back to ballet tonight after an unintentionally long break. I wanted to go back last week but ended up catching a pretty miserable cold that triggered another problem and extended the illness. In a nutshell, going to ballet would have been a bad idea.

Tonight I am exhausted. It feels amazing. I feel rejuvenated, my boyfriend thinks I’m happier, and I can’t wait for my head to hit my pillow.


Taking Back Control

These last few weeks have not been the easiest time of my life. I’ve been consistently sick, tired, and in a frenzy since landing in Montreal. I’ve been stuck in this idea that I cannot miss any school and to do so would be to jeopardize any chance at success.

It’s dangerous to feel this way. Last night, my boyfriend and I had a serious talk about what it meant to be so far apart and how we both had to make efforts to see each other. In truth, I had made little to no effort. I was waiting for him to come to see me. Until last night, when I looked up a flight to his city and realized that it was perfectly within my reach.

High school never defined me or what I was capable of, so why would college? When I’ve always been told that university would give me more freedom, I can tell you that I’ve only felt trapped these last few weeks. By realizing that I was pressuring someone else to come to me and not acknowledging that I had the power to go to them, I was inhibiting myself and allowing school to control me.

I fly out next Thursday, by the way.


Fake it ’till You Make it

There is some value to the old saying of “fake it ’till you make it.” I’ve taken this saying into serious account for some of the projects I’ve taken on. It works, for me at least, but it works in a concerning matter. You can truly fake your way to mastery of a specific skill or task, but you will be incredibly nervous until you realize that you actually figured out how to solve your problems.

That’s the flaw in this approach. I totally faked my way into believing I had my shit together today when I filed two insurance claims from my last medical expense. I have absolutely no clue if I filled out those forms correctly nor do I have any idea if the insurance company would tell me if I didn’t. I just did my best, tried not to get overwhelmed, and sent them as soon as I could to make sure I had time to fix any issues that might come up.

I guess that’s the thing about being an adult – you have to make a mistake every now and then to understand something. Not every solution or rule is written in black and white. The world is a tricky place – most of the time unintentionally, but nonetheless – and there is no manual for navigating the issues you’ll face. I could have been paralyzed with confusion, left the forms alone, and forgot to file them until after the period of claim was over. Money is a fantastic motivator though.

If faking your expertise or experience works for you, go for it. However, I would never encourage someone at my age to feel as though they need expertise at absolutely anything. At 18 years old, I still don’t have the expertise on how to ask my bank for a box of checks or how to advocate for my own care in a hospital. Things that seem simple become incredibly complex when you’re alone and sick or scared or worried that you’ll mess up. Don’t fake it, just don’t freak out either.


Long Days are Just Beginning

Every week, the one thing I am guaranteed to say is “I just need to get through this week.” I wonder when this constant fear of moving past the present will be alleviated. Everyone says that it’s important to live in the present, but it’s much easier said than done.

What does it even mean to live in the present? If I fully committed myself to only thinking about the 24 hours ahead of me, how would I create a future to look forward too or a goal to reach for? It’s difficult to say. All that I know is I do my best every day to not worry about tomorrow and focus on how I can make the day ahead of me productive.

My long days are just beginning. Now that this illness is behind me, I’ll have no excuse but to buckle down at McGill. A students work for C students, maybe I won’t buckle down that much.


An Update from a Sick Student

I’m almost done with my second week at McGill, and I can tell you I’m not enjoying myself. It’s not fair to just say this without recounting everything I’ve done (and haven’t done) since arriving at this university, so I thought I would do that here.

When I came to Montreal, I had two days before I moved in. My bags had been lost in the transfer between United Airlines and Air Canada. I also came down with a fairly bad cold that kept me in bed for two days. I do realize that this was in no way McGill’s fault, but I do believe that sometimes there are signs from the world that what you are doing is not what is for you. I couldn’t help but think about this idea as time edged closer to move in day.

Moving in and meeting my roommates was perfectly fine. My apartment is nice, my room is a good size, and the two other girls I am living with are kind, interesting, and good flatmates. So far, that aspect of university is the one I have been enjoying the most. Frosh (Canadian “orientation” events) started two days after I moved in. I got a sunburn on the first day and came down with yet another virus that evening. I was sick to my stomach for most of Frosh and didn’t participate.

To be honest, in a way, I am grateful that I fell ill. Frosh events ended up being a lot of drinking, drugs, and partying. By the end of it, all of the freshmen and Frosh leaders were hungover and had a head cold. All of the participants had decided to drink from each other’s glasses, hook up, and crowd themselves into very small places. They then spread this “Frosh Flu” to the rest of us. I have that flu right now, but I’ll come back to that.

Classes start. On my first day of classes, I was taking Legal Anthropology, Calculus A, Introduction to Philosophy, and Near Beginners French. I have since switched Calculus A for Introduction to Communication Studies because Calculus A had barely started and it was already keeping me up at night. Looking back on these past two weeks, calc was probably the only class I signed up for that made me feel like I was lost.

Maybe that was a good thing though. My anthropology lecture was 1.5 hours long and consisted of a lot of intuitive ideas about law that I already had a sense of. Philosophy started with the question of “do we have free will” with the basic argument. I will admit I was not aware of this specific argument, but I will also say that I don’t care. I can’t stand this philosophy class. It’s huge, I feel like I can’t speak, and it makes me miss Socratic seminars more than anything. I am desperately clinging to the online Socratic I do every Sunday to maintain my love of Philosophy.

French isn’t so bad. I do think that foreign languages may be one subject that I do well with in a classroom setting. In that class, we have 29 students instead of 300 and we have a workbook instead of a textbook. So, in essence, my favorite class so far is the one where I get to write and speak in a language that I am unfamiliar with. It also happens to be the smallest one I am a part of. Who would have guessed?

Now, I have the Frosh flu and I’m not allowed to miss class unless I have a doctors note. I hate to say it, but some of my high school classes were more interesting than what I’ve experienced so far. Everything else except the days I go to school and living by myself is almost exactly the same as high school. I miss Socratics, I’m already sick of being talked at, and I’m having a lot of trouble fitting into a social scene because I don’t want to drink.

I’m not happy. Not with my classes, not with my lifestyle, not with the culture of the school I chose. I’m feeling stuck. I’m not sure what to do about my unhappiness at this moment, but I know what I need to do about this cold. I’m going to rest and rest and rest. Hopefully, I won’t fail my classes in the process.