Lend Me Your Ears
The best part about what I am about to tell you is that I actually don’t need to explain myself. When I first started telling friends and family about the decision I had made, I got a lot of mixed reactions. Some sad. Some confused. Some worried. Some happy. Some unquestioning. Some supportive. It has been a real mix of facial expressions and words being tossed my way, and thus far, I have juggled them and promptly tossed the person’s feelings back at them to deal with. I have only my own feelings and state to deal with, and that’s the beauty of this decision.
I believe the universe speaks to us. I would even go so far as to say that we are all psychics. Every single one of us has psychic ability, and whether or not we are open to listening will dictate our ability to hear the universe. While I was on Saba, I met a man named Michael, the manager of my guesthouse. When I arrived, it was night; the rain pitter-pattered on the thick, juicy leaves lining the narrow staircase up to the office, and the frogs and birds brought the jungle around me to life at orchestral proportions. It was a song that I cherished each night as it lulled me to sleep. I bumbled my way up the path and into the office, and Michael emerged to greet me, his bright smile the first sign of the pleasant time I would spend there. During the 8 days I spent with him on the island, we grew to be close friends. He showed me old photos of his family, told me about his son and his favourite movies and all about his travels. He would bless the drinks we shared with Gaelic sayings, strange words I couldn’t understand but which felt beautiful and somehow familiar. I told him about life at home, all about my grand travel plans and I even shared some of my worries with him. Eventually one night, he asked me, “Do you believe in letting things happen?”
“Yes, of course,” I answered. I was quick to add, “but…”
He interrupted me. With that one word, but, the struggle and fight was hanging all over me. We talked it through, and I realised how much fight has been in my life for 2 years, maybe more. The situation has evolved such that I no longer know where the trouble and the struggle began, just that when I reflect, it has been going on for a while.
I used to be so good at not worrying on such gargantuan scales, at not trying to dictate my life based on what I thought should happen but by what was happening and working with that. I used to be so good at finding happiness in simple things and simple tasks and not fretting over the small stuff. What happened along the way? Where did I go so wrong? Well, for starters, when both your parents are struck with cancer, you get a bit of a jolt. That’s all I will say about that for now, because this post is not about cancer. If you are wondering, though, both parties are well. The struggle settled in sometime around then, and from all I can tell with the little hindsight I have (not quite 20/20 just yet, or 6/6 for my Canadian colleagues), this is when things really started to go badly for me. It was as if a bad wave of energy had entered my space and was only about to bring in more with it. Then I went away to school, and it all just felt… so… wrong. I had written about how difficult school was, and I tried to be as honest as possible, and I think I achieved that, but I felt as if I were banging my head against a brick wall from day one.
Do we see where I’m going with this yet?
So… not for the first time in my life, I’m taking a year off from school. And as I said, I actually don’t need to explain myself and my reasons for making this decision. I don’t have to answer to anyone. This decision was for me. There were factors in this decision that I am not going to share on here or in any format. There are things that no one needs to know about. There are even some grotesquely simple events that came to pass that ultimately forced me to come to this decision… an if A then B kind of situation, and A definitely happened. This was the universe shouting at me, begging me to listen. When something is as much of a painstaking and agonizing fight as this has been, something needs to change.
Since all of this turmoil entered my life, I began to feel as though I’d been tied to the back of a truck and was being dragged down a highway. The truck was picking up speed and showing no signs of relenting. Things were going too fast, and I felt as though I was losing any sense of control or slice of peace I’d ever had in my life. I was caught in an undertow, and rapidly running out of oxygen. In no way do I consider myself a control freak (in fact I’d say I’m quite the opposite), but this is me putting my foot down and standing up. This is me cutting the chain that has me tied to the truck. This is me throwing up my middle finger at all the garbage that has been flying past me on this highway, and this is me reaching over and pushing the big old metaphorical pause button on life.
This is me taking back my life.
I’m taking a year away from school. This was not an easy decision to make, but once I’d made it, I began to sleep better, wake up brighter, and suddenly there was space in my day again for happiness. For the first time in a long time, I am beginning to trust myself to feel happy again, and I mean that deep-down-in-your-gut kind of happiness. I had become too accustomed to being unhappy, and I no longer trusted myself to deal with happiness. I had come to learn that it wouldn’t be around for long anyway, so why even bother?
My path through life has never been linear. I say this was a difficult decision, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more it makes sense. Out of my high school graduating class, I was one of only 2 people who did not go directly into university. This was coming from a class that broke records for the monetary value of scholarships offered to us from universities across Canada. Big things were expected of us. So what did I do? I moved to Europe. What did the other person do with her time? She did a lot of things… but now she is a successful choreographer and it’s been fun to watch her develop and find success, and to know that I’m in good company. Taking a year off after high school was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, and I remember there were a lot of doubters and worriers at the time, people who did not think it was a good idea. Taking a year off now is consistent with the trail I’ve always followed. It’s a little under-visited and grown over, but it is the trail I’ve always liked best, the one where I feel most comfortable.
So here I am; I write this from Winnipeg, not Waterloo, where all my thoughts are centred around what book I will read today, how hard my cousins are going to make me laugh, visiting my grandparents, and how many pairs of socks I should wear to stay warm.
And what am I going to do with my time (my whole, entire year) off? That is a very good question. While I refuse to divulge any plans until they are official (as I’ve done this before, and those plans collapsed), I will tell you this. I do know that I want optometry, and that in some capacity I will be resuming my studies before the year is up. I am going to be using this year to gain clinical experience I wish we could get earlier on at Waterloo. I am shaping my education to suit my needs; I am undergoing a self-appointed internship. Surely everyone wants to know about what travel plans are in my future too. Well, for those, you’ll just have to wait, but I will say that they are wild and terrifying and beautiful and replete with human connection, and while I can’t wait to be in the thick of all of those plans, for the first time in a bazillion years, I’m happy to just sit here and listen to the universe.
Please like my Facebook page so you can join me on this exciting year ahead. It’s my way of putting you in my pocket and taking you with me. Follow me on twitter and Instagram too. Don’t be a stranger!