Today is September 8 2015, also known as the First Day of School. On my morning walk I saw fallen apples on the sidewalk and realized that it really is autumn. Today, my little sister started grade three and my little brother started his second year of college. My musician friends are off touring frosh weeks across Southern Ontario, and my teacher friends are back in the classroom.
I am officially back in school since my trip to Halifax last month and I'm starting to really settle in to my new life.
Back to school used to mean a new backpack, a fresh set of notebooks, and a whole new load of responsibilities. I always looked forward to the routine and to seeing my friends every day but then I graduated and I loved being out in the real world. The very first year that I didn't have to go back to class I watched kids line up for the school bus while I met up with a cute boy and went on a date in the middle of a beautiful fall afternoon. I remember thinking that I'd never felt so free, or so grownup.
I had reservations about going back to do my Master's Degree because I was scared of losing the sense of freedom I've felt since that September afternoon three years ago. But what I'd forgotten is that school can be inspiring and encouraging and can challenge you to accomplish something you'd only dreamt about. And what I hadn't really realized is that graduate school isn't like other school. It can't be compared to any other kind of learning I've experienced before. I don't have to go to classes I don't like, I don't have to write about topics that don't interest me, and I don't have to worry about grades or exams.
I get to spend the next two years writing a book, reading books, and talking about books, which is a dream come true. It's going to be hard, but the last few weeks have also been some of the most fun I've had in a while and I can't wait to do this writing thing for many years to come.
I've had to rethink my understanding of what it means to be a student again, and I have to say, it's looking pretty brilliant. I may not have strapped on a backpack and jumped on a school-bus this morning, but I am sitting at my brand new desk procrastinating on my homework just like everybody else.
The ironic thing is that I was scared that going back to school would mean losing my freedom, but I can't remember the last time I felt happier or more free.
The most important thing I learned from this process was to be really honest with myself about what I wanted out of a program and what I wanted the next two years of my life to look like. Then spend a lot of time Googling grad schools and forget about "Maclean's Top University Rankings." It's all about finding the right place for you, even if that place isn't where you initially thought you would belong.