When Something Feels Wrong

Today, I sent an email that just felt wrong. It wasn’t that it was written poorly (even though it may have been) or that it was mean, it just wasn’t true to who I was. I sent an email basically saying that I would have to stay in college to make a few things work in the coming years.

This email didn’t seem too daunting when I decided to send it. I thought that my reasoning was perfectly sound, which, in all honesty, it is, but it still doesn’t feel right to me.

One of the main issues I’m having with college is a lack of purpose. Yes, I’m taking classes I enjoy, writing papers, filling out exams, turning in assignments, and showing up for class. every. single. day. Still, nothing feels fulfilling. It’s probably a contributing factor to why my blogs have been so meh. I don’t feel invigorated, therefore, nothing I do is invigorating.

Maybe this will pass with time, or maybe it won’t. Either way, I have decisions to make.


Midterm Season

I have always hated the western school year schedule. I know there are arguments as to why schools choose the 9 months of fall, winter, and spring and allow students to have the summer, but I’ve still thought it was strange. If schools wanted to be more intelligent, they would follow more of a business style of planning and break their year up into 4 quarters, allowing students to chose which quarter they want off.

However, that is not what this blog is about. Midterms are approaching here at McGill and the library is packed with students every hour of every day. They even extended their hours so we can spend more time worrying about how we’re only halfway through the semester and we’ve forgotten what we learned at the beginning of our classes.

I’ve never struggled with tests. I probably approach them too casually, in all honesty. It’s not that I don’t see the point in studying like mad or that I think I’m above the stress of it all, it’s just never gotten to me. I did ok on my SAT, pretty good on my ACT, and got enough AP credits to finish my entire McGill freshman program without ever stepping foot in a lecture hall. That’s a decent record in my book.

Tomorrow morning, I am attending a cycling class at 7am, getting to the library by 8am, and will continue to study until 9:35am, when I will head over to the McConnell Engineering building to get to my Anthropology class. From 10:05 to 11:25, I will participate in an exam that consists of 7 long answer questions that will test my knowledge and application of concepts such as structural functionalism and legal pluralism.

Not to jinx myself or sound like an arrogant little freshman, but these concepts are all bark and no bite. Their names definitely sound intimidating, but they have no depth to them. Their definitions are in their names. Despite feeling incredibly confident for this exam, I can’t help but remember a concept that has proven to be true numerous times in my life: The more confident you feel in how you did, the more likely you are to be disappointed by the outcome.

To elaborate on that idea, I will offer an example. I took a French quiz right before I left for Austin. I was the first one in my class to finish and felt incredibly confident in my answers. I got a 70% on that test. Not too bad for one of my first college quizzes, but it definitely wasn’t the A I was expecting.

So, that’s why I will continue to study. I may have an arrogant voice inside my head, but I can choose when to listen to it.


Disengagement from the Complex

There’s this class at McGill called Introduction to Communications. Now, when a university says “communications” what it really means is “we pretty much think all media is evil and out to corrupt you.” I think this is definitely an exaggeration, but take a class and tell me if I’m wrong.

The end of the semester is approaching pretty quickly, midterms are just on the horizon. We have our final exam schedule, but I only have two. My other two classes involve a final project to finish the curriculum. In my communications conference today, we were put into groups and asked to decide what form of media we wanted to analyze.

I suggested Blockchain technology because of its future impact on security and eliminating the need for trust between humans during transactions and record keeping. No one was interested in this, unfortunately, so I ended up being grouped with the girls that wanted to study Instagram influencers. I thought that platform would offer the best opportunity to incorporate some element of Blockchain tech.

When I left to go home, I remember thinking on the train that there was a disconnection from the idea of exploring the complex. Those girls did nothing wrong, they simply chose a subject they were familiar with and felt that they would do well with. However, I have never seen education or academics as a place for familiarity or comfort. I have always seen projects and assignments as opportunities to explore something I don’t know.

Maybe I’m more curious than the typical college student. My reasoning is that if I’m going to do a project, I might as well have some fun along the way. I’ve been curious about Blockchain technology for a long time and have been making little efforts to learn more about it. I thought a major final project would be the perfect motivation I needed to spark my engagement with the subject.

I was quick to realize that this is not the mindset that inhabits most of my classmates. Instagram is something 99% of teenage girls are familiar with, so picking that as their final project was probably a no-brainer. In all honesty, I have no doubt that I will do well on this project, but I also have no doubt that I will not learn a single thing along the way.

College and education in general, seem to promote this idea of “just pick the easiest route and get it done.” Although I can 100% understand the desire to chose the path of least resistance, I can’t bring myself to agree with the idea that it should be promoted in an academic setting. The more we push people to just go with the most comfortable option, the more we distance and disengage ourselves with the ability to begin to understand something more complex.

As time goes on and this practice continues, I fear that the human capacity for learning will decrease. If we all learn only what we must know to survive and are incapable of finding a desire to explore anything else, our intellect will surely begin to shrink.

As I said before, I don’t think those girls who chose the project did anything wrong, but I do pity them. They’re putting in the minimum amount of effort and turning their nose up at any opportunity to expand their knowledge. Once they leave a university setting, I’m sure they’ll have a hard time finding flexibility and a willingness to learn again.


Donut Taco Palace

Today started off at a place called Taco Donut Palace, so it started off pretty damn well.

I spent the day with my boyfriend who I haven’t seen in three months, met a mentor and supervisor of mine, explored downtown Austin, and realized that what I am doing in Montreal truly does not make me happy.

It’s not that I’m miserable. I think there is a long distance between happy and miserable. However, one may argue that being in the middle of these two extremes is even worse. It wouldn’t be a far fetched idea to compare the state to limbo.

For now, I’ll stay in limbo and feel out my options. The reality is, my life is far too short and fleeting to allow myself to stay in situations that don’t make me as happy as possible.


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.


University: The Ultimate Fear Mongering Tool

I’m having a bit of a rough night, so I thought I would share with you this piece I wrote for Original Path.

“Upon entering the university system, I’ve noticed a few things. After two weeks of classes, I can tell you that I am struggling. The lectures are in direct opposition to the type of learning I experienced in high school. I battled with the administration at my old school, but the style of learning complimented my desire to communicate and learn from others ideas. Socratic seminars and discussion-based learning were exactly the types of tools I needed to succeed in education. Now, I’m sitting in a lecture hall for 1.5 hours and listening to someone I don’t know talk at me. So why am I still here?

Well, a couple of reasons. The first one being, it has only been two weeks. I don’t want to discredit my experience thus far as I understand that it is likely not much will change, but I also want to be 100% honest. Perhaps I will grow to appreciate what my lecturers say, but just because I am grateful for their time still doesn’t make it valuable for me to stay. In reality, the fact that I don’t feel as though I am receiving anything from this experience is costing me time and money. $1,500 a semester to be clear. This is a lot less than many others pay, but that’s beside the point. It wouldn’t matter if it were $1,500 or $15, it’s still at a cost to my profit and my energy.

I’m also quite anxious about the idea of leaving. Fear is definitely a major factor as to why I’m still in school. Before we go back to the whole “2 weeks” thing again, let me just state that I was “in school” for twelve years prior to this. Everyone who told me that life in college would be different than life in high school was not speaking from relevant experience. Most of them went to college or university decades ago. From what I’ve seen, 90% of university life is very similar with respect to high school life. A few notable differences would be a change in where and how you live (unless you went to a school near your home and still live with your parents), the people you are surrounded by, and how your schedule is arranged.

It is true that you have more freedom in college, but “more” is a relative term in this sense. In many countries around the world, there are laws requiring a certain amount or level of education before you can tap out. In college, you can leave whenever you want, but most people still don’t. This is because universities can and do take advantage of societal norms that have developed due to an increase in university attendance and graduation.

Think of most of the people in the workforce that you’ve met. What’s often one of the first things that they say when you ask them about their job or why they chose to do what they do? “Well, I went to X University and graduated with Y Degree…” In the past, a university education was truly something of benefit to most people. As time went on, more people started going to university, banks started offering larger loans so schools started raising tuition, and all of the sudden we’re in the 21st century and have trillions of dollars in student loan debt. When going to college after secondary school became a requirement for jobs or even just a social norm, everything that was connected with higher education took advantage of that. Now we have 18-year-olds who are willingly putting themselves into massive debt out of fear of not being able to make money in the future.

Yes, I am still enrolled in a university, and yes, I do plan on finishing this year at the very least. I have definitely bought into the fear mongering that universities benefit from. I would never claim that every university directly uses fear tactics to maintain their student population, but I doubt they would complain about the societal consequences and judgment that comes from dropping or opting out of university. It’s not “too late” for anyone to change their mind, but many don’t out of worry. They wonder what they would do if they left. It’s never a bad idea to get involved in alternative education and learn as much as possible about the options out there. Here’s a fantastic article from Praxis about all of the college alternatives that have been popping up recently.

Similar to my other articles, I want to advocate self-discovery. Spend your time figuring out what you enjoy doing and put your energy towards that. No one, not the government, not a potential employer, not even your family has any right to tell you what is a valuable or meaningful use of your time. Research your options and understand what is available to you. There are many many universities, and you may think that you have to choose between them but you don’t even have to consider them if you don’t want to. Don’t allow fear of the lack of a degree to make you give up your time and money. You only have so many days to make your impact.”


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.