things i have never said

There are a lot of things that I have said to people that part of me wishes that I hadn’t. Being discreet and keeping secrets has never been my forte. I remember when I was little, nearly every Christmas I would get so excited about what I had bought my family as gifts that I would try to get them to guess. Then if they were wrong I would tell them anyways. I understand that just because you want to say something, that does not mean it needs to be heard. I also understand that sometimes saying nothing really is the better policy, even if what you want to say is the truth. But still, I have said many things to many people that I should never have said. And although many people may think that I probably say too much, there are some other things that I keep secret.

Some secrets are small, like when I was little for some reason I would love to the skins of mandarin oranges. I also went through a phase where I would only drink flat pop (please don’t ask about that one!). Also, I love, I mean really love, corny, cheesy romantic comedies. They are my biggest guilty pleasure. Some of the secrets, though, are bigger.

There is a part of me that I don’t think anyone knows. Although, I am not sure if it is just a part to be honest. It is more like there is a version of myself, the version of who I want to be, the person I want to become. I think of her as the true Sarah. She is powerful, influential, smart, funny, and kicks ass at her job. She is also kind, and loyal. She also fights for the things that her values tell her are important. What are those things you ask?  She believes in fairness, and integrity above nearly anything else. She wants to fix problems, but not just problems like how to sell more products, or how to make money by selling and trading stocks. She wants to solve the problems of the whole world. She loves big problems, like the healthcare system in Canada, or even bigger yet: climate change. Essentially, she wants to save the world.

I am not sure if I am the only person who has this hidden self or if everyone does. I would love to know, but unfortunately I don’t think people will ever show themselves to me. I think we are lucky if a handful of people, throughout life, will reveal their true selves to you. Part of me thinks that maybe this is the way it is suppose to be. So then why am I posting this online for everyone to read?  To be honest, it was a conversation with one of my Rotman buddies that was the catalyst. We were talking about the pressure to conform to what others think you should do. In Rotman, there is huge pressure when it comes to what kind of career/job you want after Rotman. There is a sense that you must choose between Finance and Consulting. This is almost ironic, in that out of all masters programs, the MBA program actually provides the most diversity of options for careers that you can have after school than any other program. Yet, we all pressure ourselves and others into these roles.

This conversation made me remember an exercise that we did during orientation last year. We had to picture our lives in 10 years. Then we had to create goals for ourselves, and then prioritize those goals. Even though, most of my classmates made fun of the exercise, saying it was a waste of time, it made me really think of what I wanted. It made me realize that I did want to change the world somehow. It also made me realize that I would prioritize that goal over everything else; over having a big beautiful house, children, and even marriage. The sad part is that it didn’t hit me as much as it should have, because even though I realized those things I still hedged myself in first year. I hedged because I was/am afraid of failure, but also because of what other people might think. I may be able to put on a mask of self-confidence but deep down inside I am terrified.

At the end of the day we all want to enjoy our jobs/careers and we want to believe in what we are doing.  I understand that for some people, being an investment banker at RBC or a consultant at McKinsey is fulfilling those needs. For me, that means that I have to forge my own path away from the traditional MBA fields; meaningful work is being a programme officer for the United Nations or maybe something else entirely.  I need to find my place within the (much) wider business community. That is the other reason why I feel like I need everyone to know about this “other Sarah”, and what I want because I need to be held accountable. If people don’t know about it, then it would be very easy for me to hedge myself again, which would lead me to a job and career that is not one that I want. I want to find the place where I fit and where I feel like I am actually contributing in a meaningful way to me.

Being human means that we are social creatures. We want to have friends, actually in truth, we need to have friends, family, or some form of closeness to others. So venturing off on your own path is a scary and daunting task. But there are so many different types of people out there and so many different types of jobs and career paths; why push yourself into someone else’s mold? I bring this up because as the Class of 2014 at the Rotman School of Management begin to move along our separate paths, we should support each other. We should value that we are all individuals, and not pressure each other. Also as second years we should try to foster that attitude in the first years as well. People should feel free to take risks and feel that they won’t lose everything by failing a little. It is my belief that is the only way to really achieve greatness, and what better lasting tribute to Rotman (and more importantly ourselves) can we give but to be the greatest versions of ourselves as possible?

going home

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the old saying: “you can’t go home again”. I have been thinking about it because after my 9 week tour of Ecuador and Peru, I went home. I spent 10 days hanging out with my family, and friends. I only moved away last August, and have only been back twice so far. But both times, it has felt a bit weird to be back. I love my parents, and this time I was able to see my brother, his wife and my nephew (who is adorable by the way). I also love my friends, especially my bestie. But there is something weird about going back. I feel like I’m almost split in two: part of me wants to stay there forever; the other part of me cannot wait to leave.

Apparently the saying “you can’t go home again” is the title of a book, written in the early twentieth century by Thomas Wolfe. I have never read the book but I did look up the synposis on Goodreads. Basically it is about a novelist, George Webber, who write a book, but when coming home, he is driven out by the outrage of the residents. The main character than travels trying to find himself and his home.

This is the big question: “What makes a home a home?” Is your home where you were born? Where you spend the most time? Where your parents live? Where you live? Figuring out what home is to you is one of the biggest parts of becoming an adult. It is the human equivalent of baby birds finally flying out of the nest. I would argue that when you are little the answer to the question is easy, as it is where your parents live. Even though I have been an adult for a while, it has only been recently that I have started to change my definition of home. To be honest, I always thought that I would consider where my parents live to be my home, forever. Maybe that is why it is weird for me to go home now? Because I am no longer going home. For me this feels like it is my last step in actually becoming an adult. Which I must admit is a process that has taken almost a decade and I still feel as if I am not done.

I have been thinking a lot about this idea for another reason. Before my trip to South America I would have said that Toronto was my home, but now I am not so sure. It has been weird to be back. I disconnected so completely from my life here that I am finding it hard to reconnect. I love my friends, and everything here but I think I have realized that this is not where I want to end up. I feel this summer may have changed me more than I previously thought. I was always the home-body. My parents chose me as the executor of their will because out of their 3 children I was always been the one that never strayed far from home. It is funny the difference a year or even a few months, can make because now all I can think about is picking up my life and moving to the craziest place I can think of.  For one of the first times in my life, I am actually thinking about living in another country besides Canada. The even scarier thing for me is that I am finding myself not only wanting to leave Canada, but I am yearning for it.

Maybe this will change. I do have another year of schooling to complete, and as I said before, a lot can change in a year. But one thing that I do know is that I am like George; I am still searching for my home.

goodbye

It is my last day in South America. It is the last day that I will wander the streets of Quito. It will also be the last time that I get to go to Kallari,  a cafe that serves the best chocolate caliente EVER! As my trip has been drawing to a close I have been reflecting on all that I have done and seen over the last couple of months. The amazing experiences of  swimming with sea lions and turtles, swimming at sunset in the Amazon, trekking through the Andes to Machu Picchu, and so much more. I have been able to see things that only a small portion of the world will every get to see. I have had experiences that I think have changed me, even if just slightly, and the way I see the world. I even get a little emotional thinking of everything that I have done. This trip has been a blessing. I have been thanking God everyday for the fact that I was able to do this trip.

It is incredibly bittersweet to be going home. On one hand I am super excited to share all my experience with my family and friends. I am also excited to wear something other than the 5 or 6 outfits that I have with me in my backpack. On the other hand though, it is like saying goodbye to a dear friend, not knowing when I will get to see them again. I have fallen in love with every place I have visited on this trip. I have fallen in love with the beauty not only in nature but also in the people. The people here have been the most amazing. They have been kind, helpful and very curious. I have never met people who will help you the best they can even though you do not speak each others language. I also have never meet people who are genuinely interested in you and where you are from. Every person I spoke to, the second question was always “where are you from?” The culture is something that I think North Americans can learn from. It was amazing to see the plazas and parks filled every Sunday with people-families enjoying the sunshine, couple sitting on benchs. It be honest, this laid-back sense of time and life can be frustrating, especially when it is 1am and you´re waiting at the border. But yet it is nice that they do spend time to actually enjoy life.

It feels almost surreal that it is over and that I now must go back to my normal life. It is time I say “goodbye” to the two countries that have captured my heart. So now, courtesy of google translator as we know I haven’t learned that much Spanish, in honour of Peru and Ecuador and the summer they have given me:

Adiós América del Sur, gracias por el mejor verano! Me he enamorado de su naturaleza, su gente y su forma de vida. Te echaré de menos!

Amor Sarah

from heaven to hell and back again…

This past week I have been from heaven to hell then back again. My week started off with me waking up in my room at Del Wawa in Mancora. I remember walking out of my room and seeing the beach, palm trees and I really did feel like I was in paradise. I went to get breakfast. I was surprised when I found out that I could have any kind of breakfast I wanted. I decided on pancakes that morning since after all it was Sunday. They were delicious. I ate them in what I think is how people in south america (at least Ecuador and Peru) eat their pancakes. So there was no maple syrup, but a delicious jam compote which I am not mistaken was made with rasisins. The whole thing was amazing. Eating my pancakes while I looked out at the ocean, and the early morning surfers. I then went back to my room and grab my sarong, ipod and book. I proceeded to while away the day laying on the loungers that they have set up on their semi-private beach area. It was the best day. I also realized that coming here was just how I wanted to end my wonderful vacation. After all the cold, and hiking that I did in Cusco and for the Salkantay trek, this really was heaven.

The next couple of days went on like this. Me enjoying the wonders of not having to do a single thing. My biggest concern was whether I want to continue laying in the sun or move under the umbrellas for shade. Eating and drinking were not concerns since there was a waiter and bartender waiting to serve me about 5 feet from my lounger. I will say that I did leave the comfort of my lounge chair to explore the city, especially for supper. I had ceviche, grilled fish, fried fish, an amazingly delicious shrimp lasagna. I also sampled some of the deserts which were also delicious. They make a pie that is like lemon meringue pie but with passionate fruit. Its amazing! But I digress…

Everything was going amazingly well. I was basking in the beauty that it is to be in heaven. I was even contemplating taking a surfing lesson.But then tradegy struck.

I have gone almost 2 months without having any real medical problems. I have eaten at nearly every kind of restaurant. I have even eaten street meat. I have used the local water at brush my teeth every where I have gone. It was here while I was in heaven that the gods thought it was the right time to give me a stomach bug! I have no idea what kind of stomach bug. I don’t know if its from something I ate or drank or maybe it came from some other source. Only god knows. I could not leave my room for the most of 2 whole days. I will spare you all the gory details but it was a dark time. I had been ripped out of heaven and thrown into hell.

Luckily, I have recovered. Maybe the trip to hell was my toll that I need to pay for having such a wonderful holiday. If it is then I am glad that I have paid it, and that I have been allowed to enjoy my last remainding days in heaven and not hell.

i have fallen in love

Okay, this post will be short. Also, I do realize that I haven’t blogged in a while. It’s weird because I have been experiencing so many different things, that I should have a lot to talk about. But for some reason I do not feel like it. I cannot think of a cohesive theme for a post. I have just been enjoying every minute of my trip. I realized while I was trekking on the Salkantay Trail that everything that I have done on this trip has been the best, the most amazing experience. That is is until I do the next thing. Maybe that is what makes a good trip? Maybe that is what a good life is? Come to think about each “stage” of my life has been the best stage…until I enter into the next one. It is true. I have never looked back on my life thinking “oh if I could go redo high school, that would be awesome!” Whenever I have left one part of my life to go on to another I have always felt that it was the right time, and that I needed to go. Maybe this is just me and my outlook but I think it is also because I have had a truly great life.

Having been spending these last 12 days in Cusco, and the Sacred Valley: I have seen the ancient ruins of  Sacsaywaman, Pisac and Ollantaytambo; I have treked through the rugged and beautiful terrain of the Andes on my way to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu; I have seen the beauitful golden field with snow capped mountain while horseback riding; I have bartered and haggled in numerous markets; I have had alpca steak, trout pizza, and some of the best food. Through all of my adventures here I have realized on thing: I have fallen in love. It really hit me sitting in the ruins of Machu Picchu looking out over the surrounding mountains and valleys. I needed this trip, not to figure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, or to give myself more direction, but I needed it for me. I needed to be reminded how beautiful and amazing this world is. And by extension how amazing my life is by the fact that I get to see it.

I needed to fall back in love with life – with my life to be more specific. I have had such an amazing life with incredible opportunities. Some of which, saldy I have taken forgranted. I did not realize that they are precious gifts. Gifts that I should be fully exploiting not complaining about. Luckily for me this trip has helped me fall back in love with my life. Also, luckily for me, I have a couple more week. I plan to spend most of the 2 weeks on a beach soaking up the sun and learning how to surf. If my life isn’t a great life than I don’t know what is 🙂

silence and distance

I was sitting in a canoe on Laguna Grande in the Amazon, and I remember thinking of how quiet it was. Normally silence is something that we think should be avoided. We all know those awkward silences when a conversation dies,  and we rack our brains for something to say-to fill the void. But at that moment, in that canoe, the silence was one of the most welcoming, and weirdly enough, beautiful experiences. There was no void because the silence was already filling it. I have had very few experiences like that, where the lack of something is actually something in and of itself.

It struck me while I was in the Amazon enjoying the quiet that silence and distance may be what I need in my life.

Even as I type this there are a multitude of noises from the city around me. It makes me wat to go back to that lake ad just stay there in quiet revery. I mentioned that in a previous blog that not being able to speak Spanish very well made me think and reflect more than I had really before. When you are by yourself and there is silence the only voice that you are able to hear is your own. Listening to myself and not listening to others is  something that I have always struggled with. I feel like I have always cared what others think of me. I have always framed success in terms of what others or society sees as success. Being able to understand yourself, to know yourself is truly the real journey that we are all on in life. Other people are important, they can help guide or make us think about ourselves differently, but in the end, you must make the decision therefore you need to know what it is that will make you happy. The silence that I have experienced here has shown me that I need to drown out the unwanted noise in my life.

When I was 14, I had  friend visit me in Edmonton. There was a festival going on and my mother decided to take us. There was a psychic there, and we had our cards read. The one thing that has stuck with me is she said that everyone knows exactly what they are meant to do, deep down inside. And if I just listened to myself than I would know. Originally I thought that she meant that I was supposed to just know what I was supposed to do with my life. I have ow come to realize that was not what she meant. She meant that if you listen your own inner voice it will know what to do. Basically to trust yourself, ad that you know what you want and more importantly what you need. I am reminded of these words now more than ever as I am listening to myself and following my own guidance.

As for the need for distance, back home in Toronto my life had become a 24 hour, 7 day a week Rotman obsession. While I was in it I never realized by my whole world in Toronto (with the exception of my fabulous sister) was related to school. It is no wonder why I needed a break from it. I love my life and all aspects of it, but being away has made me realize that I need balance. I thought I had a balance lifestyle because I was being social and hanging out with friends, but when all of your friends are from the same sphere it isn´t really balance. It was a fake balance. I know that it sounds weird but I want to maintain some sort of distance from the school when I get home. I want to start meeting people outside of Rotman. I have realized that I need to start developing my life away from school so that I can have real balance.

I cannot believe that I am half way down my trip. But I have realized that although this trip will end in another month, the journey that I am currently on with myself will last a lifetime. Something that I am looking forward to!!

top 21 experiences from my time on the galapagos

It is my last full day on the Galapagos Islands. I have seen and done so amazing things! A part of me wants to stay here for the rest of the summer, and another part of me wants to stay here forever. But alas, I must move on to my next destination where I am sure I’ll see and do amazing things too.

I have realized that I have only blogged once since getting here, and since there is so much to share I thought I would list the top 21 experiences I have had in my few short weeks of being here. Why 21? As the informal motto of Jatun Sacha would say “por que no”, or why not.

21) On my first day at Jatun Sacha, a group of us went hiking up a river bed to a waterfall with pool, where we went swimming. Then proceeded to get lost on the way back. It was where I learned 2 important lessons: first always brings lots of water with you, and two always carry your flashlight with you as it gets dark early.

20) Being able to eat juicy ripe papaya, mandarin oranges, and passionate fruit fresh from the tree, while on break during our work at Jatun Sacha.

19) Seeing Gaint Tortoises from little babies to ones that were over 100 years old at the Galapaguerra.

18) Snorkelling at Bahia Rosa Blanca, where the White Tipped Sharks were so close and numerous, that one actually bumped into one of the girls from our group.

17) Catching a wild pig, and watching while it was butchered. Then eating it for supper. Mmmmm….

16) Hanging out at the Jatun Sacha bar (aka, the next door farmer’s porch), where we played cards, pool and danced the night away.

15) Hanging out, listening to music while watching the waves roll in at the ever amazing Tortuga Beach on Santa Cruz.

14) Snorkeling at Kicker Rock twice. First time seeing some sharks, rays, sea turtles, and lots of fish that I felt like I was in “Finding Nemo”. The second time, swimming amongst loads of beautiful fish and hoping that the sharks would not start feeding early.

13) Swimming with adolescent sea lions at Isla Lobos, where they would like to swim straight at you, playing chicken with you.

12) Seeing Punta Pitt with all the different types of birds, including the 3 types of Boobies (blue, red, and masked).

11) Macheting mora and guava at Laguna El Junco. It started off covered in so much mist that you could not see more than 5 feet in front of you, then all of a sudden the fog dissipated revealing this beautiful lake to one side and rolling hills down to the ocean on the other.

10) Dancing up a storm at the discotechca, while pub crawling on my last Saturday night on San Cristobal

9) A huge pod of dolphins swimming next to our boat on the first day trip to Kicker Rock. It was amazing; there were probably more than 50 dolphins! What a sight to see!!

6) BBQ Pollo for cena at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Isabella. It was one of the best meals, with the best home-made ahi.

5) Watching the morning feeding while waiting for the ferry on Isabella. There were Pelicans, boobies, sea lions and penguins all feeding together. It was an amazing sight to see.

6) Lobster Ceviche…enough said I think 😉

5) Hiking up Volcano Sierra Negra, and looking out at the 10 km calderas (one of the largest in the world). It was breath-taking to see the huge vast black expanse contrasted with bright green foliage on along the sides.

4) Being able to meet such a vast, diverse and great group of people! It was great to be able to have some great conversations and get to know so many people, and learn about different cultures, and languages, etc.

3)  Celebrating Sankt Hans, a Danish midsummer festival, a little early in honour of Marie’s heritage. Sankt Hans is a festival where you have a huge bonfire and burn a witch (made out of wood). This supposedly sends the witches back to Bloksbjerg (a mountain where witches live). It was very funny when one of the Ecuadorian workers, Hanan, came up to our fire with the witch on it and jut said “Why?”. To which Marie responded with “Por que no”.

2) Cooking and Spanish lessons with Sandra at Jatun Sacha. She was a great cook, and the food was always really great! I cannot wait to come home and to try cooking it myself.

1) Swimming with sea turtles off of Isla Isabella. They were almost as big as me, and so amazing. I was close enough that I could have touched them.

hola from the galapagos!

Hola Amigos!

I have just done my first week on the Galapagos. It has been an amazing experience so far! I have swam in a pool underneath a waterfall, macheted a field that will soon be for coffee production, played soccer with Germans and Ecuadorians (and actually stopped most of the goals!), swam with sea lions, saw sharks and sea turtles while snorkeling, watched as about 40 dolphins swam along the boat, had a whale make a surprise surfacing right next to our boat and just had some great experiences!

The people that I am volunteering with are great! There is a German couple who are teachers taking a year off traveling. They are very German, and very funny! They are the couple that I would like to be part of one day. They tease each other and there is still that spark when they look at each other that I love. There is a british girl named Kat that is the sterotypical hippy. Before coming here to volunteer she was at a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. She is also a vegan. And some how her clothing and hair are always messy but is the best sort of way. I have always wanted to be that girl that makes everything look effortless, but unfortunately I have realized I am a bit more high maintainence. There is also a Danish girl, Maria, who is quiet and super sweet, we actually had an interesting conversation about taxes and social services last night. There of course many others, but these are the ones that I have gotten to know the most in my first week. For the most part they are all young (early 20´s), which makes me feel a bit old but I am coming to terms with that. I haven´t had too many revelations as of yet except for one, which is that I completely in the wrong place.

Now, I don´t mean that I am not enjoying my time, what I mean is that I am starting to understand that I have changed too much. I think before Rotman I would have thought that this is a great way to give back but now all I can think is there has to be a better way. We were macheting a field the other day and all the others were talking about how good it feels to be contributing in some way, and all I could think about was “Is planting coffee a good idea? I mean its a commodity and there is no way that this will be able to help the organization or island in a real way, will it? The commodity market is super fickle, especially coffee prices. The farm is not big enough, to produce enough that would generate a whole lot of income. Although their costs are low as they use volunteers, but still. I cannot see this as being a good decision. Also having us macheting the field cannot be the most efficient way of doing this.” If I were fluent in spanish then maybe I could have a conversation with the organization, but unfortunately I am not. The other thought that came to when we were working, and I am a bit ashamed of this, but it was “I am way over qualified for this”. I mean, maybe 6-8 years I would felt like I was contributing, but now all I can think is that my competitive advantage is not in cutting down bushes but rather in helping the organization with its over strategy.

The other thing that I find funny, not in a haha sort of way, is that it is true: whenever you get exactly what you want you want something else. I have been given a gift in the fact that this trip is exactly what I wanted after my first year at Rotman. It is the furtherest thing from MBA work as you could possibly get and all I can think about is strategy, and operations, and commodity markets. I guess I am now 100% certain that I am MBA, and that I do love business. I do belong walking those halls of Romtan. I want to make a difference but I want to do that through commerce. I am starting to think that is the only way you can really make a big enough difference.

It makes me smile because now that I have gotten what I wanted, I am looking forward to figuring out and getting what I need.

 

 

 

observations from ecuador

I am currently in the middle of day 4 of my 64 day trip. There have been some interesting observations that I have made.

People are in general good, decent, and hardworking. People here for the most part are very nice and friendly. My first day in Quito started off a bit rocky. I was on my way to a market that I read about in my guide book. I thought that I was going the right way but it turns out that I spent 2 hours walking mainly in a weird circle. After that I claimed defeat and went back to the hostal for a nap. Luckily I forced myself out in the late afternoon. I was very hungry and stumbled across a McDonalds. I am sad to admit that I ate there. I did it mainly because I just needed food, but also I think there is something to wanting the familar when everything around you is different. After eating, I walked over to this park that I had passed by in the morning when it was dead. Now it had come to life with families playing and enjoying the sunshine. There was also a market with some very wonderful examples of the crafts and handiwork made by locals. I was very tempted to buy a beautiful alpca blanket that was the softest thing ever. I think I may have to buy a couple before returning home. When I was walking back through the park, a group of guys called me over. Of course I was very nervous and skeptical. One of them makes jewellery and we spoke a bit, mainly due to his english some in a small part due to my broken spanish. He made me a little wire design with my name, although he spelt ¨sarah¨-¨sahra¨, I think the ¨h¨ confused him. From now on I think I will have to be Sara, not Sarah.

The second observation is that it is incredible how much I have come to rely on always being connected. It feels weird that I need to wander around the city trying to find an internet cafe place in order for me email, blog and check facbook. I cannot even get started on not being able to text my friends when something crazy happens. For example, I was walking around miami beach on Thursday night, and I saw a club called Mangoes. It made me laugh because of a inside joke between my best friend, Mac and I. I took a photo and wanted to sent it to her or even just text here, but alas I couldn´t.

The third things that I have observed is that not very many people speak English here. Now, I was expecting that most people would not speak English, but I thought in the touristy areas that it might be better. To be honest, I have managed to be able to take public transit, buy food at a market and sight see all with my limited Spanish skills. The thing that is bothering me is that I am not able to really communicate or get to know people the way I would like.

Both the last observations I think will in the end turn out to be good things. First, I am forced to hone my Spanish and miming skills in order to communicate. Secondly, I think this not being able to verbally communicate with others is almost a forced vow of silence. It has already given me more clarity on issues that have bothered me for years then any thing else every could. I think it also makes it so that when I do speak there is a purpose to it. I think sometimes, and specifically for myself for sure, we speak more because we want to talk not because we need to be heard. I think this experience will help me distinguish between thoughts and feelings that need to be shared and those that don´t.

the countdown is done…

The days have slowly move towards my departure, and finally my last day in Toronto (for a while) has arrived. I am a ball of mixed emotions; I am excited, happy, anxious, nervous, and still in a state of shock. It all feels quite surreal. Thoughts like “I cannot believe this is happening”,  keep floating into my consciousness. I keep thinking about this trip as if it is something that has happened to me, not as something that I actually made happen. Of course, the latter is the truth. This trip is actually happening because of a conscious decision. My outlook on life has always accounted for a bit of randomness. Whatever you want to call it, chance, luck, fate, I have always believed that there is something other than just ourselves guiding us through our lives. Sometimes I muse to myself about what would happen if I took a different route or left the house at a different time. Would my life by different? Would I have met a random person that could affect me in someway, altering the course of my life? Now obviously, most of the little mundane details of our lives are just that-mundane, but we will never know for sure whether these little decisions do have an effect or not. We never really get to see the counter-factual of all the other decisions that we could have made and therefore can never really judge.

I recently had a conversation with a good friend where we talked about our outlooks on life, of which we both have very differing perspectives. My friend has lived much of his life making what he calls 3-5 year macro plans. As I mentioned in my previous post I have spent most of my life either micro planning or pretty much “winging it”. I have always had this idea that there was some sort of fate or destiny involved in life. That if something did or did not happen, it was because it was either supposed to happen or not. It was interesting talking to this friend as it made me realize that my perspective is a luxury that most people do not get to have. For example, my friend had to have a macro plan in order to survive and flourish. In his world, you had to constantly improve and strive in order to make anything out of yourself. He wanted to come to Canada, and that wasn’t going to happen by doing nothing. I have always taken fore-granted that most countries will accept Canadians in without much hassle. Growing up not just in Canada, but in a middle class family there are many things that I take fore-granted. Until now, I would never have questioned if my perspective on life is one of those things. If I had been born in a country where I had to really strive to achieve even the smallest things then I think my perspective would be very different. I think I may account for the outcome to my life as more in my control  than in the universe’s.

Personally, I have never gone through anything that I would say was a real hardship. The only thing that comes close is me being grounded when I was little. Not to say that I have not had challenges in my life, but it is never really hit home how lucky and privileged my life really has been. Growing up I always considered my life fairly average. You always compare yourself against your friends/peers. When I was young most of them were all like me: girls (mainly white) from middle class families with usually a sibling or two. Coming to Rotman and meeting many people who were brought up in very differing circumstances has shed light on the fact that my up bringing wasn’t really average at all. My life has always had an ease to it; I have never really worried about not being able to live the life I want. For me, it has always been about figuring out what I want, not necessarily about how to get it. The how part I have never really concerned myself with, mainly because I have never had to. In grade 12, I knew that I would be going to university. I just knew it. I never questioned that I wouldn’t get accepted or that I wouldn’t be able to pay for it. I knew that either my parents would pay for it or I could get loans. My biggest concern was what I was interested in studying. I have always had the luxury of being able to search for myself and figure out who I am; that is essentially what I am doing this summer. This may sound weird or bad or something, but it is only after this conversation that I realized that this luxury isn’t something that everyone gets. A few of my classmates have expressed that they are jealous that I am taking this trip, and I have been thinking for a while that it was weird. All of them if they really wanted to could be doing a similar thing as me. There is nothing stopping them. That is what I thought until I truly realized what I am doing is not something everyone can do. Many people just don’t have that luxury. Whether it is a lack of money, lack of time or lack of freedom, it is something that they just cannot do.

This understanding has made me so much more grateful not just for this summer and trip, but for that fact that I get to take the risk. Not only do I get the chance to go to places that many people will never see, I also, at a late stage in my life, get to embark on what that same good friend calls, “my eat, pray, love” trip. I am grateful that I have the privilege and luxury in life to be able to take the risk to really get to know myself and what makes me happy.  I promise that I will try not to waste it!