I’m a big-city girl who came to an even bigger city to study abroad at SFU. Looking back at my freshman days, I realize that a lot has occurred and a lot has changed; those things have shaped me far more than anyone could’ve predicted.
Stereotypical hurdles like the freshman fifteen might’ve been a myth for me, but my first year consisted of a lot of other failures, including a failing grade among the marks on my transcript. I thought, how could I be salvaged? My redemption seemed to be out of the question. So at the first sight of danger, I ran back to my big city in India for the entire summer.
I did return, though, and my sophomore year was a year of transition. I mellowed my natural tendency to party, I tried to be more organized and disciplined, and I managed to turn my Cs into lousy Bs. Even though there were times where I was critically harsh on myself for making what I felt wasn’t nearly enough progress, I just kept swimming.
Sure enough, I made it to shore. My third year took a complete turn: I hit my first A, while taking a bunch of extra curriculars and managing time as if I were running on a 25-hour clock. I made all the time I needed.
But, hey! I gave myself three years to get to a healthy position, and contrary to expectations, healthy doesn’t have to translate into perfect. I still hand in assignments at 11:59 a.m. on Turnitin, each time telling myself that I’ll never do it again. I reach my lecture halls panting and I still get distracted during lectures as I scroll through food pages on Instagram.
I make all of these mistakes as a third year student. Who cares? I’m ready to stomp through this spring, not because I have a universal solution to academic success, but because I know I have to keep going forward — quite simply, because it’s my ambition.
It’s not about getting As, or even an undergraduate degree. It’s growth in my academic field; learning more of what I’m studying, for the sake of learning. It’s showing up on time for meetings and lectures, catapulting myself into an unshakeable routine. It’s developing the necessary zeal to not fall back into a slump. Most of all, my ambition is to be as self-reflective as I can be.
I’ve realized a few things over the course of my SFU experience. My procrastination isn’t a result of my incapability to manage time; it’s because I’m lackadaisical, and sometimes cocky about my abilities. I grumble or struggle with assignments when I haven’t put enough thorough research into them. I repeatedly justify myself with, “I could have easily scored better if I had put in more time.” Realizing that these justifications were excuses, not reasons, was what led me to connect the dots of my shortcomings.
I formed bad habits and let myself believe I was hardwired to behave the way I did, but that is so not true. Breaking habits requires a lot of conscious effort, but believe me, a little time and introspection can break through the thickest habit that you have.
You’re a sinner if, for one second, you believe that you aren’t capable of ridding yourself of the person you’ve been before — even worse, a convict for letting yourself stay stagnant. Keep swimming.