At A Crossroads | Life Update

I first got into the blogger scene because I loved reading about and learning about other peoples lives. (I’m super nosy that way) But in all seriousness, it was like getting a chance to meet a Taylor Swift song in person. You felt like you were seeing yourself in the people you were following, and you connected with them in the same way you connect with the lyrics in a T-Swift song after a heartbreak. The personal feel to a blog is something I feel like blogging has lost touch with. Up until now, ArcticSabrina has been pretty bleak on th personal front, apart from a few very sparsely uploaded personal posts, you guys don’t really get to know me. Maybe it’s super vain that I think you might like to, but whatever. At the very least these posts can be little check points in the story of me. My life right now is at a huge crossroads, it’s something I’ve been spending a lot of time working through, thinking about, and talking about, so I thought it would be the perfect time to let you guys in.

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I feel like everyone has these moments. For a lot of people, it comes around the end of high school, when you’re first faced with the ‘well, what now?’ question. The ‘what am I going to do with my life? Am I going to like what I end up doing? If I don’t know now or if I don’t do something now, am I going to end up settling for something mundane? Or, even worse, something I hate?’ I always felt lucky that I skipped out on these anxieties in high school. My worries at 18 were not about what I wanted to do, but whether or not I would be enough to do it. I was lucky to be seeing a counsellor then who really helped put my life into perspective. Instead of trying to figure everything out, I just asked myself the question, what would I be happy failing at? What would I be happy studying, if there was no such thing as job security, financial security, or instant payback? I thought I wanted to be an actress, as so many 18 year olds do. And then I thought, would I still want to be an actress even if I wasn’t the best, even if I only worked in small time theatres and never really got recognized for my work? Essentially, I was asking what would I want to do if there was no one else involved. If it was just me and the world, what would I be? So I studied history.
And I loved it. My first year of uni was spent trying different things because that’s how my program was set up, and because I was told over and over and over how first time students always end up switching their major two or three times. I knew instantly that this was where I wanted to be. I succeeded best in my history classes not because I was determined to be successful or achieve great things, but because I was interested in the content and I genuinely thought it mattered that I learned it: exam or no exam. I’ve always felt so lucky to have found my passion right out of high school, but I’ve always known that the opportunities at the end of my undergrad were really open ended.
You might not think a history degree leaves you with a ton of options, but it really, really does. Big areas include working in public service, heritage (museums, art galleries, etc), politics and government, or going to graduate school. Right now, I have no idea which direction I’m headed.

There’s another piece of my puzzle that you might be familiar with: I’m 21 years old, 22 in July, and I’ve always lived at home. I decided last year, while watching Estée Lalonde’s ‘How I Moved to the U.K.’ video (and then reading Bloom) that I wanted to move to the U.K. I don’t think I had realized that this was a genuine possibility, and faced with the wealth of history and heritage sights across the pond, I thought it would be the perfect next step. Since then, I’ve convinced one of my best friends that she should also take her life abroad, and I’ve considered moving to France, Germany, and Ireland. My plan was initially to move and to work, so when I decided to apply to grad schools I only applied to universities overseas (University College Dublin – I’m in, University of Edinburgh – also in, and Cambridge – haven’t heard back yet). But one thing I’ve been faced with recently, now that I only have a month left of school, is that my plans from last year don’t fit with me like they did before. I’m only a year older, but I’ve done a lot of thinking and a lot of growing, my priorities, my passions, and my interests aren’t necessarily the same.
If I could go back to my high school question and ask myself: if it was you and the world what would you do? The answer is so simple. I would keep going to school. I’m not done learning, and I know that. But I also know that I don’t need to be in school to learn. I do however, need to be in school to contribute. I need to be in school, essentially, to learn how to be a historian, something that definitely does not have a pay out in the end. There aren’t really classes that I’m dying to take per se, but I have research I want to do and I have papers and books that I want to write. I know for the same reasons I knew when I was 18, that this is the right place for me.

There’s one heck of a ‘BUT’ coming up, and I know you know what it is: finances. I have been able to graduate from my Undergraduate degree debt free. It is an absolute blessing for me to be able to start my independent life at 21 years old, with a university degree, a heck of a lot of passion, and no debt. Not a lot of people my age are so privileged. If I go back to school, even for one year, I’m looking at $30,000-50,000CAD in debt. I could do my Masters at my local university debt-free, but it feels stagnant to me. I guess you could make the argument that I don’t really want it then, but I think it’s more than that. I think I need new professors, new minds and perspectives, and new resources to kickstart this next stage of my academic career. Right now, I’m planning on foregoing the whole thing, unless scholarships can take it down to the $20,000-30,000CAD range. So far, not so good. I’m competitive for getting into institutions, but I’m not competitive enough to be getting scholarships from them. It’s a tough blow.
So what now? I’m applying for jobs. I say that, and I haven’t even sent out one application yet. I don’t know 100% whether or not I’ll be at school in the fall, so summer student jobs are completely up in the air. Other bad news: I work for my university’s newspaper and I’ll be out of a job once school ends. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, you’re reading the words of a 21 year old, unemployed loser, living out of her parent’s basement. Seriously. I haven’t applied for jobs because everything seems so wide and open, and the more I think about it, the more I have my heart set on my research. So now I’m faced with the question: if I don’t go to uni, do I stay home, work as much as I can and then go on long haul travels, and hopefully get access to some archives, and learn the language I need to in order to reapply and complete my Masters degree with my research set and ready? Or do I get a job that I at least have the option of working up, and work on my language and research from there? All of this assuming I can get any old job in the first place.
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The most frustrating thing about where I’m at is that I feel lost even though I know I’m not lost. I know exactly what I want to do, I know it’s meaningful, and I care so much about it, I just don’t know what the best way of achieving it is. I think that last part is up to fate in a way. I know a lot of people think the whole fate thing is complete nonsense, but I’ve gotten to the point recently where I’m doing everything I can, I’m sending out scholarship applications, looking for jobs then applying for them, and then I’m just… waiting. And everything else totally depends on people worlds away from me, and how they’re feeling that day, and where they want to put their money, and what kind of people they like. All of that is completely out of my control, so whatever ends up coming my way, it might not be exactly what I’m looking for and it most definitely won’t be perfect, but I feel like it’s fate.
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  1. This is so refreshing and honest! I’m 24 and have gone down an amazing, tough, beautiful path only to come to another crossroad. We are never truly done deciding which paths to take – I’ve learned to enjoy the ride and try to be as happy as often as possible. Whatever you choose will be the right decision at the time.

  2. Oh, thank you for sharing this. I could relate with a lot of what you’ve written here… Unlike you, I haven’t always known what I wanted to do with my life (I had to soldier through a career change), but now I do know what I want to be, but as in your words, “I know exactly what I want to do, I know it’s meaningful, and I care so much about it, I just don’t know what the best way of achieving it is.” There are so many questions in my mind right now because I’m also at a point when I’m just waiting, for others to make decisions that will impact the direction I’m going to take. The openness of where we could be headed next is intriguing, but also very confusing and sometime frustrating, and you’ve articulated that complicated feeling beautifully in this piece. I’m gonna go do some more thinking now…


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