Nobody has it “figured out”: embracing the uncertainty of my 20s

Ever since I was 17, I have questioned whether I would ever find my place. Everyone else seemed to have things figured out and I felt behind on “life”, but in my time at Bishop’s, I have finally realized something that has lifted so much weight off my shoulders. So, allow me to share a little secret about uncertainty.

The big, sensible, decision

Having spent most of my life nestled in the Eastern Townships, the decision to pursue higher education came with its own set of challenges. For one, the responsibility of funding my education meant that the most sensible choice for me was to remain at home and commute 55 minutes to the closest University, which happened to be Bishop’s. But convenience is not why I have stayed here. 

Choosing Bishop’s was easy: they have an amazing campus, faculty are very involved in student life, it was affordable for me to earn my degree, and not to mention there’s a Tim Horton’s here! The hard part was figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and which program to pick.  

Standing at the crossroads  

My mind was overwhelmed by many possibilities. How could I choose just one path, when there were countless versions of myself waiting to be explored? It felt like I was standing at a crossroads with each direction leading down a different path: travelling the world, starting my own business, working with wildlife, surfing the Gold Coast, becoming a food critic… The list seemed endless. I’m not one thing, so how was I supposed to choose one thing?

But then the weight of uncertainty settled on my shoulders. How could I afford to travel when even a plane ticket was so expensive? How could I decide on a degree when my interests pulled me in so many directions? Choosing meant giving up on some others, at least for a bit, while I got my feet under me. 

The fig tree analysis 

Throughout my gap year between Cegep and University, I read a novel called “The Bell Jar.” One of the most important messages that resonated with me was the fig tree metaphor. 

In the novel, the protagonist, Esther, contemplates her future and the possible paths she can take throughout her life. She imagines herself as a fig tree with each fruit representing different life choices, but she is unable to choose one and worries that in choosing one, she will miss out on all the others.  But what happens is that by not choosing a fig, they all slowly wither and fall off the tree. She watches as many figs, many possibilities, slip away simply because she hesitated to make one choice. 

This really gave me something to think about. It helped me recognize that my obsession with “figuring it all out” and constantly re-arranging my plans for the future was causing me to overlook opportunities. The pressure and stress I felt had paralyzed me.

In order for us to shape our own destiny, we have to take that first step, whatever it is. Don’t get caught up in what will follow afterward, just do what feels right in the moment. That’s when I decided to apply to Bishop’s to study entrepreneurship and minor in scientific diving. It wasn’t just about focusing on one path; it was about having the flexibility to explore multiple avenues for my future. And that’s what Bishop’s offered me: the chance to dive into the world of business and science simultaneously, opening a world of possibilities.

I picked my fig. That’s my secret to you.

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