I almost destroyed myself believing that my life had a strict timeline.
I grew up in a small town, surrounded by the same friends for most of my life. Over the years, those friends quickly became my family and there was no part of me that could ever imagine leaving them or the place we all grew up in for too long.
I had it all planned out. I would continue my education after high school and get my degree before moving back home and starting my life. In my mind, this was the way it was supposed to be and I wasn’t prepared for it to be any different.
In 2015, I was in my second year of university and living only 40 minutes away from home in New Brunswick. Everyone around me seemed to be on track but for some reason, I was struggling in school and in my personal life.
I was desperately searching for an opportunity to escape and clear my head. I thought that maybe if I took a step back from my regular routine for a moment, I would be able to come back and continue on my path.
It was at this point that I decided I would move to Italy for the summer and immerse myself in a different culture.
When it finally became time for me to leave, I was overcome by emotions that would linger during my time overseas. The first few weeks were the hardest, as I questioned why I would ever leave everything I was used to.
Eventually, being away from home became easier and I could feel myself changing in more ways than I ever thought possible. I started to see the world in a unique way and it made me think about how I was living my life back in Canada.
During my last few days abroad, I thought a lot about where I was heading. I was ready to go home but I wasn’t sure if the plans I had made for myself were going to work for me anymore.
When I arrived back at school, I tried to convince myself that I was only feeling that way because my European summer was coming to an end.
I brushed it off and quickly buried those thoughts in the back of my mind before starting my third year, but it wasn’t long before I started to feel unhappy again. I wasn’t motivated to participate in classes and I became frustrated with myself for not being able to keep up.
I decided to stay at school for two more years, reducing my course load as each semester passed. I kept telling myself that it was going to get better and that I just needed to finish my degree.
The truth is, I was blinded by the pressure I put on myself to have this part of my life completed by a certain time. I was enamoured with the idea of a ‘perfect’ life and eventually, I was able to establish that it was killing me.
When I started thinking about how I could help myself, my first thought was to leave again. I accepted that I wasn’t going to graduate on time and I couldn’t imagine staying any longer. I knew that what I needed most was more time to work on myself as an individual away from everything and everyone I knew.
It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made but after four years without finishing my degree, I decided to pick myself up and move to Ottawa to start over.
I have had to work hard to change my mind about how my life is supposed to turn out and it’s still a battle I face every day.
The fact of the matter is that life isn’t supposed to be linear and it’s going to throw you off course sometimes. Over time, I learned to embrace the road bumps and take the lessons with me as I go.
I realize that I might be taking the long way to figuring out where I am going but for now, I feel like I am exactly where I need to be.