The Art and Struggle of Independence in University

silhouette of a person during sunset
Written by: Yusra Choudhary (Third-year, Software Engineering Student)
Photo Credit: Unsplash by Lee Scott

University is a major transformative period in a person’s life, at least in my life, it was. In a sense, it was freedom, and this freedom was unfamiliar. No teachers reminding me about deadlines, no lunch breaks reminding me to eat, and no acknowledgement for absences. I’ve always questioned whether this was the freedom I anticipated or was it different from what I had imagined?

With independence came the responsibility of managing time effectively, a lesson I learned early on in my university journey. The realization hit me hard as I grappled with the newfound self-discipline required to excel in this new chapter of my life. 

No longer was there a teacher or parent motivating me or reminding me of impending deadlines and exams. It was a wake-up call when I slept through one of my very first classes in my freshman year. In that moment, doubt clouded my mind, and I questioned my ability to handle the independence of living away from home. However, as I navigated through the challenges, I gradually discovered the importance of striking a balance between my academic pursuits and personal commitments.

I was able to try new things, and add different activities to my daily routine, a different kind of freedom I never had during high school or middle school. Learning to prioritize what truly mattered took a weight off my shoulders and played a vital role in propelling me forward in this transformative process.

In the realm of decision-making, I discovered the importance of prioritizing my own best interests. With no one else to rely on, I had to navigate the complexities of choosing paths that aligned with my personal aspirations and long-term goals, especially when it came to my career.

The pressure to make the “right” choice from the start of university was overwhelming, often leading me to question my program and career path after encountering setbacks. The weight of a single poor grade or challenging course made it feel nearly impossible to move forward. I would question if I deserved any moment of enjoyment. It was during this journey of decision-making that I realized the potential harm we can inflict upon ourselves as our own worst enemy, a realization that emerged as I faced the task of making concrete decisions for my future.

Being a South-Asian woman in a male-dominated program posed unique challenges, pushing me to step out of my comfort zone. Overcoming the fear of rejection was a constant struggle as I ventured into new experiences, applied to clubs, and embraced the diversity at Western. Achieving personal goals required an internal battle to push past the fear of failure. However, the fear of never knowing the outcome motivated me to keep trying and persevering in pursuit of my aspirations.

University provides a fertile ground for self-discovery, even though the journey can be challenging. This very journey led me to appreciate my own company, a feat I believed was impossible. It allowed me to delve into various campus clubs, exploring and nurturing my passions.

Through this process, I gradually gained independence and a newfound confidence in my abilities.

I do believe there is an art to be found within this transformative period in university despite the struggle.

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