How I feel about not returning to school this year

I’ve been told that it seems like I’ve been in school forever. It’s a fact. Between Senior Kindergarten (SK) and journalism school, I spent 19 total years in school. Wow.

Since my last year was hands-on, and similar to what life would be like working at a radio station, it felt more like work I’d expect in the media industry. Spoiler alert: It’s awesome!

It didn’t really hit me that I’d no longer be a student until I bought bus tickets instead of using a student bus pass. I know it’s not much of a difference, but life is really about the little things, including what I will miss about the student life.

Most people are sad when they are no longer asked for ID when they purchase alcohol. I’m sad when I have to tell people they have to charge me more money at movie theatres because despite my baby face, I’m no longer a student.

Granted, I didn’t really use my student discount cards in my later years of post-secondary. I realized I was just spending $10 on a piece of plastic when I barely purchase clothes during the school year. Now that I’m not a student, I wish I took advantage of that.

I miss getting dressed up for school formals and I want a fixed schedule with set hours, but I know that it’s not too much different than what I’ll deal with in the post-student life. Proms and banquets become weddings and work parties. Class schedules become work schedules.

If it’s anything I miss about school, it’s definitely the social aspect. Since my high school friends and I have diverse career plans, and some of my university friends have moved away, getting together has been tough anyway. Just because I’m used to it, however, it doesn’t mean I like it.

One of the best parts about any year of school was seeing the friends I made there every day. Now, I just hope for the best when we have plans to get together.

There are some things I will for sure not miss, such as writing eight page long essays that could have been summarized in a 1,000 word feature article, being sick on reading week, which was supposed to be my break, and feeling guilty over giving myself a break, even if it was just me wearing comfy sweat pants and reading a book while drinking tea.

But if it’s anything I won’t miss, it’s feeling like I don’t fit in. I lost this care in college. I felt satisfied with the way my life was going and I found my purpose as a writer.

I think most students have wondered if they fit in with the crowd. I’m not talking about making sure you look and act professionally during your practicums. That’s a different kettle of fish and really, something you should always keep in mind while gaining experience anyway.

I’m talking about fitting in socially with the rest of the students, based on adolescent/20-something norms.  If it’s not your fashion sense during your leisure time, it’s your music taste, your hobbies, or your relationship status that someone will nitpick about. It’s something that doesn’t end with school, but you can’t deny it happens a lot there.

At the end of the day, if I like where I am in life, I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.

However, the closer I was to leaving the student life, the more I realized the only difference between being a student and not being a student (I refuse to say “the real world”, but that’s another story for another day) is exactly that.

I don’t care how old I am. If there are writing tools, computers, bedding and clothes on sale, should I need to upgrade, you bet I am taking advantage of that. Living is expensive, and if I can find something I know I’ll use all the time with a price tag that won’t make me cry, then that’s okay with me.

As much as I want to cry when I think about how much of my disposable income went towards all-day breakfasts, smoothies and bagels, I know I’ll still treat myself with coffee and tea runs. Grabbing coffee with a friend is one of the easiest ways to get together, and everyone needs a little boost in the middle of the day, regardless what time you reach that mid point of your day.

Although most of my time in post-secondary outside of the classroom/newsroom was on my laptop, I know that won’t change. I am a freelance writer with an online presence, and I am typing my novel after all. I highly doubt that the writing, media, and journalism job market will leave the digital world, because so many of our expectations are tied to leaving a digital footprint.

Speaking of our expectations, I know that trying to explain to people outside of the industry what I have to do won’t change.

While I have an idea of how long it will take me to write an article, I still never know when I’m truly done my project until I submit it on time. Sometimes, I would take me all day and night just to produce 12 minutes of audio, two web stories, and two videos, never mind all the hours spent traveling all over the city and interviewing people so I had raw material!

Then again, I know this is how it is for everyone in any type of work/study ever, and that regardless of where we go in life, that won’t change.

Either way, it’s a bittersweet feeling to no longer be a student.

Is anyone out of school for good as well? Are you returning? How are you feeling? Let me know in the comments!



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