I’m terrible at dealing with major life changes. I’m constantly trying to figure out where I am, and who I am, within the rhythms and patterns of school, work, and social life. And as life changes, I’ve had to learn to go change with it.
During my first semester of grade 9, instead of doing our usual summer road trip to Somewhere, Canada, my family took a sabbatical to Europe for three months. This was a fabulous opportunity. Everyone around me, from my friends to the elderly ladies at church potlucks, asked me how excited I was. In response, I’d plaster a giant smile on face, and sound just enthusiastic enough to placate them. But inside I was afraid of leaving my routine, my school, and friends, for a whole semester. I was anxious that all of my friends would forget who I was, and somehow I’d come back to school as the new kid.
On landing in Dublin, and looking up at the grand Celtic cathedrals surrounding me, though, all my apprehension disappeared. I was finally excited to travel and explore all these countries I had read about for years. And when I returned to school three months later, my friends had not forgotten me.
I was first drawn to CMU by family connections, and the Outtatown program, with no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I stay because of the interesting classes and the allure of a close-knit community. And while university is certainly stressful at times, and has led to a lot of questioning, the unexpected beauty of this place is it’s teaching me to adapt.
The answer to the question of “what am I doing here” is, I don’t know. I’m currently trying to understand people, and the world around me through classes in sociology, psychology, and international development. I’m building community through formal leadership opportunities, and casual chats at the Blaurock. I’m living in this beautiful time of being a second year when I can simply enjoy being in this space without actively worrying about the dark vortex of graduation. I’m learning to rest in the constant motion of university life.
As I think about where I’m going, I can’t but think of where I am coming from. I see it in my sister, who just finished soaking up the last few rays of sun in South Africa with Outtatown, an incredible learning experience that I can only hope was as meaningful for her as it was for me.
I’m inspired by my parents, who just finished travelling through China, using their medical and organizational skills to help with conferences for Mennonite Church Canada. I don’t yet know where I’m going, but I hope I can one day be as cool as they are, and use my love for people, and education in a similarly meaningful way.
And as I think about my family, stretched between three different continents, I find myself centred in this place, facing the uncertainties and questions that come with university life. And I think I’ll enjoy being here for a little while longer.
Mackenzie Nicolle is preparing to enter her 3rd year at CMU, majoring in Intercultural Studies.