Print Edition: August 21, 2012
As a teenager, I thought I had it all figured out. My parents tried to warn me about this, but as most teenagers would, I ignored their advice. I thought I knew everything from my type in men to how the world really works when we truly open our eyes to the outside. This arrogance is often tied to the typical teenager, but typical and arrogant were two words I would never have associated myself with.
Through my teenage years—as you might expect considering this chauvinistic attitude—I grew deeply unhappy and felt desperate for a way out. The details are unimportant, and probably look very similar to many before, so I will save you the time and sum it up simply as this: something was missing.
The emptiness I felt could not be bought or filled with a night of drinking cheap vodka. I isolated myself from the world that surrounded me and prayed I would spontaneously combust. I became good at ignoring the voice of reason—a.k.a my parents—tuning them out with post-hardcore maxed out on my iPod.
I needed to be awakened but I didn’t know where I’d hear the sound of the alarm. I didn’t want to be apathetic, yet I couldn’t help it as I felt trapped in my own environment.
In attempts to free myself I travelled quite a bit in my teenage years in search of everything from the best vegan gelato in Rome to self-sufficiency, all the while hoping to discover my life’s purpose.
After returning from these adventures, I only came back to find myself more depressed and further detached. I experienced an elongated state of panic which couldn’t even be tamed by travel: my first love. University had always been important to me, but I was definitely in no rush to get there. But when the lure of travel had become jaded by one too many failed missions of finding myself, I thought I would give it a try.
I am now in my last year of university at UFV and I can whole-heartedly say what was missing was the drive for knowledge beyond what I thought I already knew. Travel is an incredible way to experience a new culture, but my education brought me something that would stick: an identity.
The first two years of my post-secondary education were not nearly as profound as the more recent years. I started to feel like a child again; curious about everything around me. I realised that the people around me were just as curious and didn’t care about what I wore or how I looked because we shared an equal interest in something bigger than surfaces.
I found happiness in my quest for knowledge. University has this kind of ripple effect when it comes to learning. I grew keen and became interested in knowing more than just was said in class. I wanted to read the same great literature as the students around me, I grew interested in the environment, I started to care about my role in society and the impact it could make in changing it. Although I often find myself deeply dissatisfied with my society and our crippled economy, I am a product of it.
Ignorance is not bliss. We cannot shut out the issues that plague our culture and world as a whole. My experience with education has shown me that one person does have the power to make change and one voice can speak much louder than we believe. As a teenager I felt hopeless and insignificant; however, I have learned through my educational role models, peers, and the activists in my community, that hope is the greatest driving force.
Take in everything you can, all the information, no matter how dark and fear provoking and accept it as a challenge. As you educate yourself and make a vow to become part of the change towards a better future, you will be initiated into the community of believers and feel less like a lone soldier at war without armour.
I found myself through education and subsequently I became a more positive version of the person I was before. I now know for sure that we all have the power to create change and in that challenge, I feel reassured, even through the chaos, that I have a place in all of this.