During my time at UBC, I had the opportunity to connect with others through engaging with the community.
My first Cultural Night, with the African Awareness Initiative, is where I remember feeling a strong sense of belonging. It was a pretty stressful time for me as I was juggling the weight of finishing term papers with the dreaded search to find a summer job.
At the event, I found myself in an environment where I didn’t feel as though I was being ‘othered.’ I didn’t have to politely explain why I speak English so well or brush off prolonged awkward stares. It was one of the first experiences that helped me believe that I had a role to play on this campus.
In spite of this, in my first year, I found the feeling of FOMO hard to escape. I was a student interested in so many causes, I really wanted my university experience to be filled with a variety of notable moments. I said yes to a lot of things.
I eventually realized that not everything would be for me. I learned to be intentional with how I spent my time and energy; instead, learning how to be present and appreciate the opportunities I had.
FOMO was not the only thing I came to terms with. I found myself becoming okay with not reaching my academic targets, which was a huge shift for me as academic achievement had always been paramount. It wasn’t like I completely disregarded my grades, I still had to maintain a certain average to keep my scholarship, it just wasn’t my only main priority anymore.
Instead, I began to find satisfaction in the experiences I was having and the new relationships I was making. I noticed that as I ventured into new settings, my values diversified. My idea of a good day changed; instead of being based on receiving an A-plus on a midterm, a good day was full of great conversations or having a great day at work.
Coming to terms with the finite nature of both my time and my energy helped me prioritize my interests and my passions above everything else.
Before the start of school in my second year at UBC, I planned what I would like to focus on in the school year, working around the hours I had left after factoring in class. For things that could not fit into my schedule, I planned them for the next term or year.
While being engaged in the UBC community allowed me to contribute in a better way, I also enjoyed moments of being ‘unproductive,’ weekends where I had no plans, or cleared my schedule after (painfully) refusing awesome events.
I did this because it became necessary to care for my body and my mind, especially as I was advocating for positive initiatives and change. I spent much of my time educating others on anti-Black racism and rape culture on campus.
But this work can be damaging to one’s mental health.
I made sure that I found time to rest and rejuvenate. This helped me continue to work well while allowing me to fully enjoy the much needed moments within the communities and groups I was a part of.
I’m glad I witnessed the casual moments, where I got to chat and relax with other students after an event. We learned from each other whilst strategizing on ways to better our communities.
Could my journey have taken a different turn had I signed up for a different club or event, rather than the ones I did? Of course! But all in all, I am content with my unique experience from my time at UBC.