Nothing, really. And neither do you. Or anyone, for that matter. All that we know is that there is more to learn. And that is the beauty of new experiences, new challenges, and new opportunities.
In just a few weeks, I’ll be a university graduate; equipped with many of the skills and knowledge necessary for success in my profession. Yet, at the same time, much is still unknown for me; there’s so much that I simply just don’t know yet.
I’ll admit that my university experience was unique to most Canadian university students, given that I attended a military college. It wasn’t necessarily harder, because everyone faces their own unique set of challenges and trials, but certainly different. The idea of maintaining a high military standard, becoming proficient in a second language, and working on operational fitness, all on top of success in academics, is an incomprehensible challenge for most. Until I was living it, it was for me as well.
Reflecting on my years at university, a lot comes to mind. I remember packing my clothes and a few personal items inside of a suitcase at my childhood home, with my father by my side. He looked nervous but excited, his oldest child preparing to spread his wings and take off into a new adventure. Naive, I attempted to come across as if I wasn’t nervous, like I didn’t feel as scared as he did. Let me tell you, I had vivid dreams as time drew nearer to my arrival at campus: getting lost, missing classes, failing assignments, failing classes, failing. I was terrified. Finishing high school, I was at the top of the food chain for the first time in my life. I felt like I knew everything there was to know. However, as I packed my bag, reality set in. I knew nothing.
Time went on and before I knew it, I was half-way through my first year. I had a pretty successful first year; passed all of my classes, made progress in my physical fitness and bilingualism, and formed some pretty tight bonds. I definitely acquired a lot of knowledge (I mean, I was at university, after all) but time never felt like it stopped. Rather, I felt that I was in the driver’s seat and the gas pedal was stuck. I couldn’t turn off the course, because then I’d surely crash. I had to just let the car go, faster and faster. Everything flew by my face and I hardly had any time to appreciate what I was experiencing and learning. All of these new friends, nights out on the town, clubs and activities, all of it was so amazing but moving so fast! This didn’t help with being nervous, and I felt like not taking the time to appreciate these moments and experiences would mean I wouldn’t have any success attempting to apply them. As I went into the summer, yet again I was faced with a similar situation to what I experienced before I arrived at university. I began to wonder if I would know what to do when I came back in the Fall, with more academic and personal responsibilities. I was back in the state of the unknown. It filled me with fear once again.
Flash forward a few years, it’s almost time for graduation. I’m sitting in my room at the college, isolating to ensure I don’t get sick or get anyone sick in our lovely COVID-19 environment. The fears I had of the unknown turned out to be, once again, without basis. I’ve had some large wins on my journey coupled with some failures. This is expected; we won’t always have clear skies, clouds are just part of the day. I’ve applied to graduate from my institution and I anticipate that it will be approved, yet, I still know nothing. Of course, I know enough to get some post-nominals, but what does that matter? There’s so much left unknown. A university degree doesn’t prepare you for the rigors of the real world, does it?
Well, I think much of what I’ve described above is actually the beauty of the university experience. So much is unknown to the student when they arrive that they begin to appreciate the beauty of not knowing. Not knowing something allows you to be malleable; you can be formed by novel experiences and formed into something better. You go from knowing everything, likely in the same town you’ve always lived in, with all of the same friends you’ve always had, walking down the same hallways and streets of your town, to an entirely new environment. This overload of information and stimuli forces you to adapt without even fully understanding what’s happening. Next thing you know, you’re in a state of flow, time flashes by and you’ve made dealing with these unknowns into a strength, rather than something to fear. You prepare to graduate, and you’re faced with the unknown once again, the real world awaits. But, this time, you’ve got some experience with it. Bring it on.
I’m preparing to go into the real world now. What’s to come? No idea. I know that whatever it is, I’ll get through it, just like I got through everything that is now behind me. This is what I’ve prepared for, without knowing it.
“The first thing you should know about me is that I am extremely high energy. You will definitely see that in my writing. I’m from Durham, currently studying Psychology at the Royal Military College. I’d like to use my energy for good through this medium, spreading positive messages and taking the often overlooked approach to things we see in our day to day lives. With that said, most of my writing will also include an element of stoicism, as I use that in addition to my positive mindset daily to deal with the world around me. I welcome feedback as I begin sharing my thoughts.”