Usually, I spend hours sitting in front of my computer, picking away at a novel I started recently. But this September, I never saw the light of day.
Last year, I stressed and planned trying to make sure I had everything in line for applications that I had to assemble at the beginning of Grade 12; important applications that would mark the culmination of a 13-year public school education.
Yes, in September, universities opened their doors to applications.
I applied to eight post secondary schools– a ridiculous number– but I felt like I needed options and I didn’t want to assume anything. It’s not free to apply, far from it, costs averaged about $70 per school. My hard-earned school savings were already being eroded.
Completing the applications was a journey itself. Walking to the bank to get cheques made out to pay application fees, I felt lighter than air.
I’d signed out of school properly, even had a note, but it was the middle of a Tuesday and I’m 17. I felt like I was skipping out. I felt like I was skipping out of school to sneak off to the airport to buy a ticket to some foreign place – I felt like I was starting off on an adventure.
As I walked to the bank feeling excited and free, I realized with a sudden shot of panic that this might be what every day of my life would be like.
When I was an adult, would I feel like I was skipping school just because it was the middle of the day on a Tuesday? Then, with even more uncertainty, it dawned on me that I was going to be an adult in less than a year.
Most of the schools I’d applied to were out east. I’ve been planning on living in residence, but I realized that if I was going off on an ‘adventure’ and that if I was going to ‘be an adult,’ I would need more than just the bare bed and empty shelves crammed into a spartan dorm room. I’d need my own towels and cups and salt and pepper shakers, and … stuff.
What do adults have? What do adults do? If I was going to check my childhood at the door as I moved into university, I’d need to find something other than studying to pass the time.
I started researching the athletics facilities at the schools I’d looked at. I poured over their lists of clubs. I even ordered a tourist magazine listing the many activities in New Brunswick. (It was informative – apparently for the past 17 years I’d mixed up New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. One is an island and one isn’t. I’ll let you Google which is which).
Soon, I started to worry about even the smallest details of this new grown-up university life that awaited me. Could I have a pet fish?
Then I received an email. It was late at night and I was making my last round of social media and I’d come around to my email. My phone made a quiet little beeping noise and lit up. There was a notification email from Facebook, a message from a subscription list, and finally, there it was – an acceptance from one of the universities to which I applied.
The stress that had been eating me alive evaporated in the time it took me to read the subject line: “You’ve been accepted.”
At the moment, I have two early offers from two equally good schools. I have plans for next year. I have plans to go to school not only to begin a degree, but to somehow figure out what it means to be an adult.
My friends are all going through the same struggle for self-realization, whether they’re off to university, trade school, or full-time employment.
My only advice: the stress wears off. The sleepless nights, time with tutors, and GPA pushing all come to fruition.
Struggling to finish an essay on a topic that’s impossible to understand may be really, really difficult – but it’s not pointless. Don’t give up.
That essay may actually bump up your mark.
That mark could become a scholarship, or a letter of reference from a teacher.
It all happened for a reason. Sometime in June, you’ll figure out what you’ll do, not for the rest of your life, because that’s unrealistic – but at least for the next year or so.
Soon, we’ll all be adults, some of us at school, some of us working, some of us starting new families. But all of us have asked the same question of ourselves at some point during Grade 12: what happens next?
Marlowe Evans is a senior student at Thomas Haney and head delegate of the Model UN Delegation who writes about youth issues.