On the cusp of graduating, as I sniff out potential employers and polish up content to assemble into a portfolio, I generally try to look forward. I think there are several things that stand between myself and the general condition that I’d be comfortable calling “success.” Not almighty success, mind you. Not the kind of success that would allow me to kick my feet up and say something along the lines of “I’ve made it.”
The kind of success I’m talking about is the kind that we experience when in the middle of things. I have had varying levels of success at UFV, but it always made itself apparent to me in that I could contemplate myself and my personal, social, and academic growth and achievements and think: “yes, this is good. I’ve made measurable progress. My level of engagement is higher, my ability to cope with stress is higher, my output in terms of long-term goal completion is becoming more consistent.”
But always, things slip through my hands. Opportunities, mostly.
This is fine. This is to be expected. One can’t do everything always, and with the highest dedication and success. There is always room for growth. And the area where growth is most severely needed, at least as far as my life is concerned, is that of compartmentalization. This is a hindrance to me on both the micro and macro level.
Here’s an example of both.
On the micro level, I’m not the best at juggling multiple, long-term goals or projects. Thankfully, I’m alright at working intensely and without sleep or relaxation for entire days until something is finished, say, a paper or presentation. But I’ve had to do this during instances where one paper is finished in the dead of night, only to be replaced by another.
More recently, I’ve developed the ability to plan these things out — not just papers, but projects of the kind, academic and otherwise — and am therefore able to work on and deliver them in a timely manner. So I’ve been able to compartmentalize work that needs to be done, and in one way or another check that little box of skill-building off in my mind.
The box I haven’t been able to check off is that of compartmentalizing the information I have. And the stress it causes me. Take climate change. Good God am I ever terrified by climate change. Terrified.
And this isn’t some vague fear or discomfort that affects me only as I glance at a climate change awareness poster, dissipating as I walk away. This is me noticing, day in and day out, that summers are getting drier and hotter, and fires are taking out swaths of forests with an efficiency that logging companies, I assume, must envy. Transitional seasons are getting shorter. Fall and spring are shrinking, and I notice this every day, and it is terrifying. Last winter we got an inordinate amount of snow, and nobody was prepared for it. There are, as of September 9, three major hurricanes threatening the Southern United States, and, as of September 8, more than 140 wildfires burning in B.C.
This is terrifying to me. Mostly because, at this point, I know all we can do as a species is mitigate damage by abandoning fossil fuel consumption and the manufacture of one-use, petroleum-based plastics, and there’s too many people and, damn it, we simply all produce an unacceptable amount of garbage.
I’m 22. Current life expectancy in Canada puts me in the ground at 79.
I can’t even begin to fathom what this planet is going to look like by the time I get there, and I can’t really do much about climate change, other than try my best to reduce my own environmental footprint. And I can’t just ignore what’s happening around me, that’s irresponsible. I might not be able to single-handedly fix the problem, but in the meantime I’ll try to compartmentalize my very real, visceral fear of the fact that even if you don’t think human activity is the root cause of it, our planet is becoming far too inhospitable, far too quickly.
Also, I really hope the City of Mission invested in some new ploughs this past year, because I remember feeling this same dread when faced with the ridiculous amount of snow we got last winter (and I’m ready to feel it again), but I might as well have the option to do so while driving to work.