Falling Behind

I recently started dating someone (by which I mean we went on one date and have a second one planned, but they’re perfect and I’m feeling really hopeful).  They’ve written a few articles for various publications, and the other day I thought it would be fun to google their name and read them. Now, you might be assuming that I found out something terrible about this person. That is not the case. Essentially, I found out that they’re even more impressive than I thought, and now I feel like shit about myself.

This person (let’s call them S) shares my passions for politics and social justice. But unlike myself, S has been acting on these passions for years. They have been volunteering and writing and contributing in other tangible ways.

I yell at politicians through my computer screen.

I plan to earn a Masters in Public Policy after I graduate this year. But you wouldn’t know it by reading my CV. I’m in Honours Math and Stats, and have held zero volunteer or employment positions in the field of public policy. I will be taking one or two political science courses this year, but that’s the extent of my formal education in this area. I have friends who have written articles about social issues and who have drafted policies for the university and who have volunteered with political campaigns for years. Who the fuck am I?

I was a very different person in first year. I was a Christian who planned to major in Religious Studies. I had very unsavoury opinions on many social issues. I was not remotely interested in politics. In second year I was no longer a Christian, but a depressed Bulimic. I had no direction for my life and didn’t care enough to figure it out. Then I took a year off school for eating disorder treatment, and had no energy or drive for anything that wasn’t losing weight. Around this time, I decided I wanted to become a Public Policy Analyst, but I did nothing about it. I figured I would change my mind soon enough, so there was no use in forging that path for myself. The year I returned to school, I was still recovering mentally from my eating disorder, and I had my first relationship with a woman. I had a lot going on, so it didn’t even occur to me to get involved. This past year was marked by heartbreak and severe depression, and while volunteering would have probably been good for me, I had no desire to do it.

But this year, I am choosing my final courses, and narrowing down the list of grad schools where I intend to apply. I am surrounded by people with years of experience related to politics, policy, and social justice. And I am just me. The current plan is to do as much as I can this year, but I’ll never catch up to my peers.  I spent my undergrad being sick and disabled, instead of preparing for my future and living my values. But I now know multiple people who did both. So what’s my excuse?

I guess preparing to apply to grad schools and dating someone new has made me consider how others might view me. And I don’t like what I see. I wish I could end this post with an optimistic conclusion (when have I don’t that ever?), but I can’t, and partially because I don’t think my thoughts are wrong. So there’s that.



The things I learned in Undergrad

My undergraduate experience hasn’t been very conventional. And I’ve hated myself for that since I returned to school in Fall 2015.

But I just finished a 10-minute guided meditation on self-forgiveness (because apparently I’m a person who meditates now), and as cringey and fluffy as it sounds, I realized something important. Namely, that I have learned so much more since I started university in 2012 than I ever could have if things had gone differently.

I wouldn’t be who I am today if I had graduated in 2016 with my friends from high school. If I hadn’t switched programs. If I didn’t take time off for eating disorder treatment. Maybe things would have been easier, but they wouldn’t have been better. Because I went to university to learn, and that’s what I did.


I began first-year as an anxious but generally happy super-Christian. I went to church twice a week, I volunteered with a youth group, and I planned to declare Religious Studies as my major in second year. I hardly know that 17-year-old version of me now. I feel compassion for her, because I remember that Christianity gave her a purpose and a community, before it gave her crippling self-hatred for being a sinner and stifled her dreams. I feel compassion for her, but I barely know her. These days, she rarely crosses my mind. Anyways, at some point, this girl decided God was telling her to become a nurse. When I didn’t get into the Nursing program for the following year, I decided to major in Psychology for my second year then transfer into Accelerated Nursing.


At the end of Summer 2013, after university education and life experience left me doubting Christianity for months, I made the decision that I was no longer a Christian. When I went back to school in September, all my friends thought I was going to hell, I had no hobbies or interests outside the church, and I had no direction or purpose for my life. I tried turning to science to give me some sense of meaning. I thought if I learned HOW our species and our planet ended up where they are now, I would also know WHY. I wanted to switch into Biology. Then Biochem. Then general Life Sciences. Then physics. Eventually, I decided to stay in psychology after all and do something to help those with mental illness. I developed Bulimia in the Fall, and barely attended any classes in the Winter. I went to the Psych ER three times with suicidal thoughts. At some point, I thought a change of scenery might help, so I applied to double major in Math and Writing at a different university in January 2015. Over the Summer, I experienced a trauma and my eating disorder became restrictive and took over everything. (When I talk about this, I like to clarify that my eating disorder COINCIDENTALLY became worse and more restrictive at the same time, but restrictive eating disorders are not generally more or less severe than other eating disorders)


Just typing in those years brings me immense sadness. This year must have been the most miserable in my life to date. In the Fall, I couldn’t work, and I was waiting until January to return to school. I watched documentaries under a blanket in my room all day, and had energy/motivation for little else. All I cared about was food and calories and weight. And to be honest, I probably needed it at that time, because everything else had gone to shit. I accepted a referral to a Day Hospital program, because I thought I would be magically better in 8 weeks and go back to school like nothing happened. I started attending classes in February, and relapsed immediately. I still only cared about food and calories and weight. I dropped all my classes in late March or early April because I didn’t have the mental capacity to learn anything. I returned to the Day Hospital program in April. While there, I decided to return to my original university, as it was closer to my home so my parents would be nearby and the trigger of commuting would be gone. This school doesn’t have a writing program, so I intended to double-major in Math and English.


I managed to mostly maintain my recovery through the Summer. I met Jenn in the Fall. She made me happy and was a great motivation for recovery. I’m still getting over our breakup, so I’ll just say the recovery stuck and Jenn did not. I also decided to only major in Math, as that meant graduating with a BSc instead of a BA, and the English courses at this school are not remotely writing-related.


Jenn broke up with me a few days before classes started in September, so I started the term suicidal. I was in the hospital a few times for overdosing, and was very nearly admitted as a psychiatric inpatient. I managed to get my shit together just in time, and got through the term. In the Winter, my roommate was admitted inpatient, and everything was about her for months. I sound unsupportive and I honestly am, but I had zero support and she was incredibly selfish during this time. I don’t want to get into the details, but our friendship became very toxic, and it was all very difficult for me. I made no changes to my program this year, believe it or not.

After 6 years of undergrad, I will (if all goes to plan) finally receive my degree in 2018. That degree will tell the world that I came to university and I learned about math. And I used to take comfort in knowing it wouldn’t say anything else. Like the fact that it took me 6 years to achieve, or the fact that I changed my mind on my program 20394 times, or the fact that I entered school wanting to be a missionary, or the fact that I lost a year of school to complete eating disorder treatment. But today, I kind of wish my degree wouldn’t just say I learned math. I wish it would say that I learned where I stand on religion, how to survive when I don’t want to, how to cope in unhealthy ways, how to cope in healthy ways, how to break and then put myself back together, how to love, the fact that I love women, what heartbreak feels like, how to put my life back together a second time, what I really want to do with my life, and how to work towards the life I really want. Because I learned all those things, and looking back, I wouldn’t change my path one bit, because those struggles and setbacks and detours made me grow into the person I am today. And I learned things about myself and the world that I will use for the rest of my life. So my undergrad hasn’t been conventional, but thank god it hasn’t been.


Bad Day

Basically what it sounds like; my day was shit.

I woke up ill-prepared for the Algebra midterm I had to write at 3:30. I had a doctor’s appointment, then studied, then attended a friend’s talk on Graph Theory, studied again, then headed towards the building where I would write my test.

Not only is Algebra my most difficult class; it is also the class my ex is in. The anxiety of seeing her compounded the already-high anxiety about the midterm, and it wasn’t fun. We ended up entering the building at around the same time, which is when I decided it was high time to take a half-milligram of Ativan. The second half-milligram was taken immediately after the test, when I no longer required cognitive abilities but was acutely aware of my poor performance.

I should mention that there is a Math and Stats Pub night currently taking place at my local pub. I know that sounds incredibly boring, but it’s a lot of fun, and there’s free appetizers. I have been planning on going for weeks because I’m working hard on being more social. I found out this morning that my ex (who is also in the Math department) was planning on going with a little posse she had assembled, undoubtedly as a power move to stake her territory with Math people. I know I sound ridiculous, but she NEVER wanted to go out when we were together. Why would she lobby her friends so hard to go with her? It’s just a little suspicious.

But anyways, I ended up not going, because of fuck that shit. At first, I planned to hold my ground and go to pub night anyways, but nobody I know is going, and I can’t look pathetic by myself while she laughs with her stupid friends. I have actually been really pissed about this all day.

I am aware that my current mental state is 80% caused by lack of sleep, 10% caused by academic stress, and maaaaaaybe 10% caused by my ex being an asshole. I have been feeling great these past few days, and I am more over my ex than ever. But today, I find myself wanting to do very destructive things (that I won’t do, don’t worry).

Anyways, time for me to go to bed.