This was the year…

This is about to be a very long post.. but I guess that makes up for being gone for a year?

As much as I truly love school and learning… I am so beyond relieved to finally yell from the rooftops “SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!” I thought I’d take this time to reflect on the hardships and memories I’ve experienced this past school year, which will hopefully help me out next year and maybe some of you too! 

To be honest, this past year was the hardest school year I’ve ever had. I feel that a combination of difficult profs (some of them I’m not even sure how they’re allowed to teach), time management issues, or overworking myself really did a number on my health and studies this year. So I guess we should start at the beginning…

Refreshed from the summer, finally comfortable with being long distance with my boyfriend, I decided to take on Junior year with full force (isn’t that what I tell myself every year though). This was the year where my grades mattered for physio school. This was the year I would excel at everything. In reality… this was the year everything about my life plan would change. 

Not sure if you guys are familiar with my life plan I’ve had since 11th grade, so let me break it down for you…

  1. Get into Kin School
  2. Apply for UBC Physio in my 4th year
  3. Graduate with a Bachelors in Human Kinetics
  4. Attend UBC Physio in the fall following graduation
  5. Work in a private practice
  6. Live happily ever after in my piles of money

The first thing that broke my plan: Advanced. Functional. Anatomy. 

The hardest HMKN class offered at UBCO, and guess who decided to take it with a full course load. You guessed it. But hey, I had an A average, I was a great student, of course, I could handle it…

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I took 4 of probably the most content heavy HMKN courses, and the most content heavy psych course offered at UBCO, I’m actually surprised I did as well as I did. In the beginning, everything was good, I was organized and wrote weekly in my planner.

This was the year, after all. Nothing would stop me.

Then as the weeks went on, midterms and assignments piled up, I was running out of time to put my 100% effort into everything. School work started taking priority over everything else, especially exercise, which if you know me means one thing: I was bound to get sick at some point. And I’m not talking just the “Oh my throat kinda hurts, cough cough” I’m talking pain, exhausted, unable to make it out of bed most days, hardcore sick. I no longer had the energy to get everything done like I knew I was able, I just didn’t care. 

This is where Lesson 1 comes in: Overloading yourself with pressure, when deep down you know you won’t be able to handle it, is never worth it. You will burn out, and when you do, you will beat yourself down for it. This year taught me that mental health is so much more important than anything else. There will be people that will say “Oh I know you can do it, I believe in you.” Sometimes that may be true, and sometimes (Exhibit A: Me) you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Everything went downhill, I lost confidence in myself and I couldn’t figure out how to pick myself back up (I know all you 3rd-year UBCO HMKNs know what I’m talking about). I had so much going on that I couldn’t figure out what to prioritize. And as the semester drew to a close I had piles of projects and last minute tests in the last week of school, that I had no time to prep for final exams. 

Eventually, final exams ended and everything worked out okay. Not great. Okay. I traveled back to Vancouver as I usually do, stress still piled up that I had no way of getting out. I became so worked up and worried that nothing was going to go the way I planned, that when I came back to school in January, I felt neither rested nor prepared. 

Oh but you haven’t heard the best part! Want to know what I did to myself this time!

6. COURSES.

6 COURSES! Why I thought that would be a good idea, I’m not sure. But my new plan was to re-take Anatomy the following year, and completely crush it with my flexor digitorum profundus, flexor pollicis longus, pronator quadratus… My fist. I’ll crush it with my fist. (…So sorry). Anyways, so this meant, in order to graduate on time, 6 courses is what I needed to do. I didn’t think it would be so bad, 3 of the courses were psychology (2 of them 2nd year classes), so how hard could it be. And it really wasn’t, none of the course content was really hard, just a lot of reading for the psychology classes. Until I encountered a prof, who shall not be named, who decided to ruin my semester (still bitter, it’s fine). One thing that seriously bothers me about some courses in University is that you can work as hard as you possibly can but if your prof doesn’t care about their students, there’s no hope for you. Which is basically what started happening to me in one of my courses.

End of January came around, I had a talk with one of my favorite profs about Personal Training Certification. He basically said that, if I don’t have a job lined up for this summer, then the certification would be a waste of my time and money since I graduate as a Kinesiologist next year anyways.

This is where the lightbulb went off.

I had been so focused on graduating physio as fast as possible, that I didn’t even think about having a whole other degree that I would never do anything with. What was the point in trying to get another degree right away, when literally I am already so ahead of the game? After a very long, very emotional drive back to Vancouver, I came to the drastic epiphany.  I was not applying to Physio the following fall, and I probably wouldn’t for another 2 or 3 years after that. Now, I completely understand how plans never work out. But at the time, I was an emotional wreck that I would never live up to everyone’s expectations of me. (Lesson 2: Follow your own path with what is best for you in the moment. Other people’s opinions about what you’re doing literally do not matter in the least. Be true to yourself and do what makes you happy.) I just started thinking, what is the point in trying to rush when I’m going to graduate my undergrad at the age of 22, with no money, and no real life experience. I realized how irrational it was to plan on going straight into physio school, where I could be missing an entire career in Kinesiology that I may fall even more in love with. 

Now, by this point, half of me was like “Work hard Karen, we still have to be the best” and the other half was “Now that we’re not applying to physio in the fall, these grades literally don’t count for anything, don’t stress out too much” (Cue: First ever real anxiety/panic attack on my birthday in the middle of a crowded night club on my own… yeah.) That was the breaking point where I realized I was being consumed by the peer pressure and the pressure I put on myself.

I kicked it into high gear. My workouts were more frequent, and stronger. I forced myself to wake up earlier to get my studies in. I learned to ask for help from my friends when I needed it… I wish this was a motivational story where I aced everything in the end. Nope, everything still went downhill, but not as a result of my effort. You won’t get any better of a grade, no matter how much you study, if the test doesn’t make sense in the first place. I excelled in all of my HMKN courses though, which is all that mattered to me. Still, my GPA went down, but I’m starting to learn to be okay with that.

Don’t get me wrong, It wasn’t all bad…

My friendships grew so much stronger

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My kickass roommate and new fish (Chandler) kept me going

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I found a passion in a specific concentration in my degree, the study of neuromuscular physiology. This past year, I have become fascinated with the communication between the brain and the muscles, and how the pathways work to function for optimal movement, and how this relates to muscle fatigue. I am trying to get into a research position next year to study the effects of neuromuscular fatigue in the aging populations!

I get to welcome a new roommate in the fall, one who I’ve been dreaming of living with “one day” for the past 7 and a half years, and now that day is finally here!

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And finally, I have grown so much this year and understand more clearly “Who I am”, and that plans will never work out the way you intend them to. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this time next year once I’m graduated because I’ve never not been in school, and that both excites and scares the shit out of me. I am thankful for the hardships I’ve gone through this year, and what it has taught me.

Next year WILL be the year. You’ll see.

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