The Fear of Regret

Here’s another from 2013. It’s a strange feeling reading this four years later; in some ways everything has changed, in others it’s just the same. So, an insight into 21 year old Amy, who felt things so intensely and worried about things so much.

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You know that feeling on Christmas Day, or even New Year’s Eve or your birthday? When you want to make it the Best One Yet and you plan and plan and plan, carefully constructing each moment, because you don’t want to waste a moment?

Because you only have one shot, or at least until next year, and you don’t want to regret what you did or didn’t do. You even start to look forward to the memory of it. Do you ever feel like that?

Studying abroad can feel quite similar, especially with so many people watching. When is the next time that I will get to live in another country? When is the next time I’ll be in Canada, in North America? I should be doing MORE! I should make a list so I don’t miss out! I used to feel this quite frequently, comparing my adventure to the adventures of other people I know who are living abroad. I would feel down because I wasn’t Making the Most of It, and would have an urge to book a trip somewhere or do something spontaneous and so typical of Montreal, so classic!

I would then remind myself that everyone goes abroad for different reasons. That everyone is, in fact, different (you’d have thought I’d have learned this by now). There is no use whatsoever in comparing yourself to others in anything, be it grades, bodies, lifestyles etc. etc. For me, this year is about learning who I am, what I am capable of and what it means to be Amy Page. I’m sort of cringing whilst writing this, but I think it’s true.

I have learnt and experienced so much just from living and studying in a new culture. Academically, McGill has torn down everything I thought I knew and forced me to rebuild it all, piece by piece. It is teaching me how to make the most of the hours in the day (still learning this bit) and to really push myself. Life-wise, I have learnt how to unblock a toilet, how to prepare for winter, what quinoa is and much else besides. I have learnt that I am capable of so much more than I thought.

I know that for me (and I’m being rather honest here) my motivation for coming abroad was along the lines of wanting a break, in order to get away from everything and to have (another) fresh start. I also wanted to explore and experience new things and all that, of course, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and feel different things.

I am not someone who suffers from cases of wanderlust, in fact, since leaving home I have suffered the opposite. I am often overcome by a strong desire to build a nest, stay put and have a place to call my own. So why did I decide to move to another country for 10 months? I couldn’t tell you what I thought when I was applying because I’m not so sure myself, but I can tell you now that by going further and further away from Home, my idea and appreciation for what and where home is has been renegotiated. When given the opportunity to do so, it is something incredibly valuable.

Being in a new place has allowed me to think about who I am without the backdrop of my past, accompanied by people who only know me as I am now. There is no box for people to put me in, unless I make the mistake of allowing these new friends to do that. This has given me the liberation to think about my potential, to think about where I want to go and how I want to get there, without the limits and expectations that I may have at home. How I can do what I’m passionate about but serve others too.

Of course I get dreadfully homesick and have days where I want to be anywhere but Baltic Canada, but then I think about the times when I’ll be back in la vie quotidian in the UK, longing to be in Montreal again. This brings me back (albeit having taken somewhat of a detour) to what I started this post by saying. This fear of regretting how I have spent my time here. Fear of not having made the most of being here.

I tell you this in order to tell myself: that way of thinking is utter bollocks.

I have already gained so much from this experience, and I still have five months to go, five months of things I can’t even begin to imagine. No, I won’t be going on the Great North American Road Trip, but that’s ok. My adventure and (forgive me) my journey may not be so photogenic, but it is no less valid nor wasted. I am incredibly grateful (so grateful) that I have had this opportunity. You could even call it life changing.

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