My first year of university was not easy. I had originally planned to attend the University of Ottawa, but when I got there something didn’t feel right. When my parents left me to go back home, and I was alone in my residence room I felt so empty. All I wanted to do was go home because I knew that this was not the place for me. The next few days were spent crying for hours and hours, not being able to eat, not being able to sleep, and barely being able to function. It was days filled with phone calls home begging my mom to come to pick me up because I felt so alone, and scared, and everything felt wrong. Finally, after what felt like the longest week ever, my mom came to Ottawa, which I should mention is a 6-hour drive from my home, and packed up my dorm room, and moved me back home.
Quickly after I got home, I started school at Lakehead University, as I had applied there while I was in Ottawa because I knew I wanted to leave, but I also knew that I needed to be in school. I started at Lakehead a week into September, and to be quite honest I still felt extremely sad, and confused, and struggled almost every day to get out of bed. I commuted to Lakehead which I absolutely hated, as I am not a big fan of driving, and I didn’t even know why I was there because I had no clue what program I wanted to be in, so I was just taking general classes. Every day at school I had the same routine. I would go to class, go eat alone either in the dining hall or the library, and then plug in my headphones to my computer and tune out everyone else around me. This routine went on for the first two months of school. It was so lonely. I used to cry almost every day. When everything felt so dark I finally met my first friend, who I will call T. He was so kind and I appreciated having someone to be able to talk to. Shortly after that, I met my second friend, who I will call H, who I am now very close with, and looking back on it I don’t know what I would have done with T and H. They truly helped bring me out of a dark place. This is not to say that I did not continue to struggle, but the definitely helped me to feel less lonely.
Despite meeting my two amazing friends, I knew deep down that Lakehead was not the place for me. It just didn’t feel right, and after my experience in Ottawa, I knew that I had to listen to my gut feeling. After doing some research, I decided to apply to Huron University College, which is an affiliate school of Western University. Applying was so exciting, yet so scary because it added that the pressure of having to do well in school in order to be accepted to my new school.
Somehow I made it through my first year, and I got accepted into Huron! I can now gladly say that I am so happy at my new school! The reason I wanted to share my story is that it is one of resilience. I faced some of the hardest mental struggles I have ever had to face, and I overcame them. What I want all other high school and university students to know is that it is okay to struggle and it is okay to be disappointed, but you have to try you best to push through it because you do have the strength to get through it, even if it seems impossible right now. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I know that many first-year students feel let down, and I am here to tell you that you have a right to feel let down. I felt so let down my first year and felt like I was missing out because I lived at home, and I was at a school that I didn’t love, and I had no clue why I was even in school because I had no clue what I wanted to do, and everything was just so different than I had pictured it. Don’t let your disappointment stop you though, there will be so many more good times to come, and even though everything feels difficult, not everything is bad, and if you look closely enough you will find good things in this year, and you will realize that you have made new friends, even if you have only met them through your phone screen, and you will have made new memories even if they were made in an unconventional way.
I want to end my story with a quote from Michelle Obama, “Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you.” I hope you take this quote and really think about what it is saying, as it truly inspires me. One more thing, always remember that you are unsinkable.
a second-year university student