Reflections: One Year Later Graduating From University During a Pandemic

I still have no idea what I am doing, but I think that is all part of the journey

An individual wearing a graduation cap throwing glitter towards the camera in celebration
Photo by Joshua Mcknight from Pexels

It’s a beautiful sunny day out on the patio today and I am feeling really nostalgic. Approximately a year ago today, I graduated from university. After five years of procrastination, self-exploration, knowledge acquirement, and the formation of incredible relationships, one significant chapter of my life had ended.

And yet — it did not look like anything I had imagined it to be.

I had envisioned being able to walk across the stage and shake the hand of my university’s president to receive my degree and know that my family were jumping for joy somewhere in the audience. Taking pictures with my friends in the rose garden, in a dress that took me two weeks to find, receiving flowers and balloons and whatever gag gifts they had come up with. To have champagne and celebratory cake at the alumni centre where I could pick up my card and write my name in the yearbook along with thousands of other graduates that year.

Oh, how life had a different reality in mind.

Without knowing, I did not know that the month of March would be the last time I would physically be on campus. We urgently moved everything online and it’s safe to say the race to the finish line was messy.

As businesses slowly closed, restrictions came into place, along with balancing my last semester and adapting to studying and attending lectures cramped in our small living space with my other friends, it was a lot to handle all at once.

Fears slowly crept in about finding a job as many industries announced they were implementing hiring freezes, which meant I was about to be thrust into one of the worst job market prospects imaginable.

My anxiety and stress levels were through the roof at this time and I began going absolutely nuts seeing every email begin with the words “In these unprecedented times…”

To this day, if I see that phrase I instantly roll my eyes.

But alas, one year later, I am feeling grateful for the lessons learned along the way.

The Importance of Slowing Down

During my undergrad, I was always busy. Whether it was volunteering, work, and/or my full-time course load, I was always doing something. Because of this, I was rarely home and often didn’t have time to unwind.

This resulted in some major mental health breaks and epic burnouts that resulted in hospital visits or counselling. Like many young adults, I didn’t care about my health and wellbeing because I was conditioned to hustle.

This past year, I’ve been able to learn the importance of a slowed-down lifestyle.

When I was forced to be confined to the four walls of my home, I realized I never created a home.

I created a place where I go to bed, make food, and shower. Not a place where I could unwind, practice wellness, or feel at peace when I needed peace.

I realized my go, go lifestyle wasn’t going to be sustainable if I didn’t make some changes. Being forced to slow down taught me that it was okay not to always keep myself busy. I had become (still am, working on it!) a workaholic who didn’t know my own limits. That’s never a good place to be in.

This past year, I’ve appreciated learning how to develop an intentional morning and bedtime routine, using productivity as a form of self-care, and finally being able to be “lazy”. I’ve watched more TV shows and movies this past year than I have in my entire life, and I’m okay with that.

Which wouldn’t have been possible without a societal shutdown.

Checking My Privilege — Constantly

Nothing about this past year and a half has been easy but there are many people who fared better than others. I’m talking about you, Mr. Bezos.

The global health crisis brought to light the extreme shortcomings of our healthcare system but also exacerbated other vulnerabilities in society that many marginalized populations and individuals have been burdened with long before the pandemic.

I often saw many posts from individuals who felt quite ambivalent because they had been asking for considerations, such as remote work, for years, and all of a sudden because the whole world (aka us abled individuals) needed to move online, we could accommodate it.

It was also a period of time of extreme social activism online and off. Most notably, the Black Lives Matter movement sparked mainstream protests and reforms for change after the tragic and avoidable deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

I went through some intense self-reflection about my space in this world and the privileges that I possess and how I can give back to my communities.

To be honest, it’s something I still grapple with constantly, but it’s work that needs to continue.

Things Are Out of Your Control, Sometimes

I have always been a control freak. For example, at the age of 12, I had outlined what my life would look like by the time I turned 30. I’m talking about a timeline with specific life events in pink and purple, from my gel pens, written in my diary.

And it was all going to plan until I hit 21, but that’s another story.

The point is, I am very used to structure, organization, and timelines that will get me from one chapter of my life to another. But organizing your life is not exactly something anyone can do, including myself.

This year was anything but controllable, and if anything, it taught me that it’s a good skill to be able to roll with the punches when they come up.

The ability to adapt to your circumstances is a necessary skill and one that I was able to put to the test when I was left scrambling to figure out what to do after graduation.

Life is unpredictable and filled with obstacles and bumpy roads, and sometimes I can’t just cruise but need to take the wheel of a 4x4 to get through it.

To be completely frank, I still don’t know what this next year entails. This past month, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my short-term life will look like. I had originally thought I had this next year planned out and turns out I really don’t — and it’s a bit scary to think about.

But if this past year did teach me anything is that in the end, whatever happens, will happen and it will end up being the right path for me. But most importantly, everything will work out in the end even if it doesn’t feel like it will.



Documenting my online life anonymously. Writing about what interests and inspires me

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Documenting my online life anonymously. Writing about what interests and inspires me