It has been almost two weeks since I completed my last official day at UOIT and I’d have to say that I am now feeling much more positive about being ‘done’ than before.
So what changed? Well, quite few things, actually…
- I know that I am not the first, nor the last graduate to experience intense emotions upon completion of a program. Knowing that I am not alone in my sadness and struggle really gives me a new perspective about my future (even if it is still very much uncertain) and I can lean on the knowledge that others have successfully traversed this milestone too. This new understanding I’ve acquired also highlights that transition is a part of life and that it is inevitable, but the key is to be prepared when changes do occur or at least as prepared as possible.
- Strategically, I was probably more prepared for this upcoming change than most, as I recognized and others that support me did too, that my system is wired uniquely and very sensitive to change (even good change) so I was mentally preparing all along. In my last post, I discussed being a resilient person and being prepared is one aspect that really helped me transition away from the predictable routine of university life. Last week was tough, but what helped sustain my mental health was pre-planning a schedule of structured activities and places to be all week. I have enough personal insight to understand what my system needed, and so I spent last week volunteering at this very special place called, Nova’s Ark. I knew that moving back to London (Ontario) so abruptly after finishing my program would be way more than I could handle, so I decided to stay local, continue living where I was and to move the following week. Being at Nova’s Ark was such a blessing to me and it was a safe place to grieve being ‘done’. Saying ‘goodbye’ to everything all at once is too harsh of a transition and so, this week allowed me to slowly disengage from my life in Oshawa and to prepare myself to leave.
- I previously mentioned feeling grief and joy simultaneously upon completing my degree and I deeply experienced that last week… mostly grief, however. I cried so much in one week and at times it felt so unbearable, but I believe it was a healthy therapeutic exercise to endure, as I’m definitely not as teary-eyed this week and feel that I am coping much better. During moments of sadness last week, I wasn’t very able to articulate my feelings and emotions, but I know that I was encouraged to cry and told that it was ultimately a good process to experience.
- As I was packing up my belongings last Friday, I was still crying at moments and it was painful to dismantle the place I called ‘home’, but once everything was packed away in the car… I felt much better! Upon further reflection, my thinking is this: I strive for routine and familiarity; I need it to feel safe and secure, but once the appearance of my room changed, I no longer wanted to be a part of it (it was unfamiliar) and therefore looked to London as being most familiar at the moment and this shifted my focus. It was like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and all the sudden I felt positive about the transition.
Now that I am back in London, I realize that it is my responsibility to build a life here and I need to invest my time towards endeavors that are positive and challenging, just like I did while I was a student at UOIT. Although my first week back in London has had its ups and downs, I feel that I am going to be okay because I know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, but…