“I have to admit that I am a struggling graduate.
But long before that, I was a struggling student. When I started university, I didn’t have a smart phone like all my friends; I was using my aunt’s old flip phone. I didn’t have internet at home, so I would often stay overnight at the school prayer room to have access to wifi. I didn’t have a laptop my first year, so I borrowed laptops for a few hours at a time from the University Library to study and complete assignments. I didn’t have money for textbooks, so I only used course reserves (which you can only borrow for 2 hours at a time, and then return, and wait fifteen minutes to borrow again if nobody else takes it). I wore the second-hand jackets and boots which my sister and aunt would give me. I used my scholarship and grant money to go out sometimes with my friends, but I stayed away from shopping, especially any piece of clothing over 15 dollars. I had a lot of pain in my tooth but I didn’t have the money to get my cavity filled (even with student dental insurance).
Towards the end of my third year of University, after hours and hours of weekly tutoring and baby-sitting, I managed to get a summer internship through the father of one of the students I tutored. That helped out and allowed me to set aside some money to pay a bit of my student loans and get internet at home. When my sister moved out, I cleared out the place and rented out her bedroom. I also got rid of the couch I was sleeping on and bought a bed.
The reason I am sharing this is not for sympathy, but because I want to give context to the next statement: those were the best years of my life. I sometimes complained -I must admit- but overall, I tried to put my ego aside and put all my effort into learning and making the most of my undergraduate degree. I was very involved, I studied as much as I could, I went out to the movies on Tuesdays when it was half price, I enjoyed my cup of Tim Horton’s instead of wishing for Starbucks, I competed in contests and even graduated with distinction.
“Being a struggling graduate is better than being a struggling student.”
When I graduated, I knew I would be a struggling graduate. But I told myself that just like being a struggling graduate was better than being a struggling high school student, being a struggling graduate was better than being a student.
I took the first job I got in finance, and despite hating it, I still took the bus 2 hours a day from 6AM to 8AM for 2 years, regardless of whether it was sunny or a snowstorm. When everyone in my workplace bragged about their cars and joked that I took the bus (they were from a privileged area, they didn’t know what struggling looked like), I joked back, hiding my embarrassment. I spent almost every paycheck paying off my student loans, except for the times I had to help out my family or when I went on vacation. I went out on weekends, and I worked some Saturdays. I made time for working out and reading books. I made friends who offered me rides and people found me quite likeable after some time. I struggled and overcame my anxiety. I started to complete an online certificate.
Sometimes, social media got to me; everyone always seemed to have it so easy. Everyone has it figured out. Everyone’s parents seemed so supportive of them and some of my friends graduated without debt and even had their own cars. But I kept telling myself everyone had their struggles, regardless of whether I saw those struggles or not.
I am a struggling graduate, but I am very happily struggling. I know some people think my life is a dream because whenever they meet me, I only share good news, look for new opportunities or bring new dreams and goals to the table. I also know that nobody’s life is perfect, and that everyone has their struggles. I don’t compare myself to others, I always tell myself to wish everyone well, and that my life journey is preparing me for a better future. That’s how I deal with career or financial struggles. So long as my mind, spirit and body are all healthy, I know I will be alright.”