by Janine Maral, Storyteller for RU Student Life
It only felt like yesterday when I sat at my dining room table and wrote my article reflecting on the completion of my first-year. Almost exactly a year later, I’m doing the same thing, sitting at my dining room table and writing as I feel. The only difference is this time, I’ve completed my second-year of University at Ryerson.
At the beginning of the year, I set an academic goal to increase my GPA average by a significant amount. First-year was tough and I didn’t put in my best effort so I knew I had to make up for that and I was aware that it would be hard to reach. The only way I would reach that goal is not only through putting in effort but learning a lesson from each class. Throughout first-year, I realized how much underestimating yourself can actually harm you and the academic goals you set for yourself. In the back of my head, I was still really hard on myself but I tried my best not to let that voice cloud me from my end goal. As fast as semester go by, I realized that I had surpassed that goal and even gone above and beyond.
The one main take-away I noticed from this experience was focus. Focus is what’s going to help get you to our goal. The path isn’t always straight and we can easily take the wrong turn and sometimes all we need to stop, take a breather, and re-evaluate where we are headed. It’s a steep climb but there’s no going back.
For me, academics make up for just one portion my University career. There are so many other factors that contribute to my growth throughout these four years such as being part of student groups and contributing to strengthening the student life on campus. Through these events and, most importantly, being part of RU Student Life, I have learned a lot about myself and how my second year went.
For example, in October, I was on the red carpet at Buffer Festival, a film festival for YouTubers, on behalf of RU Student Life and shared a video of that experience. That was something that 1) I never thought I could do successfully and 2) I never thought I would even ever have the opportunity to do. It was something that was out of my comfort zone, a new challenge that I feared to take on. But I did it. I did something that was totally new to me, that was out of my bubble of comfort. And that’s when I realized that we grow the most when we go beyond our comfort zone. If we are constantly stuck in the area we are comfortable in and we don’t challenge ourselves, we won’t ever grow
Quite a while ago, I took the 16 personalities test which basically tells you more about who you are after you answer a series of questions and geez, the accuracy is real. One part of my personality test said that I am an extrovert. The common understanding of being an extrovert means you love to be around people and you can make friends with anyone. Sure, I grew up loving to socialize and meeting new people and I still am this way, but I’ve found it harder to express my inner self with people who I haven’t been friends with for years. I think a big reason why is because I’m scared of sharing my ideas and thoughts - because I fear being judged. Generally, being personally open with new people is tough for me too. As much of an extrovert I am, I’m still a pretty closed off person. It takes a while for me to get comfortable and open up with others. As a result, I’ve found that this fear limits my social growth, making it harder to make create new genuine connections and even friends.
In the social aspect, I don’t think I’ve stalled my growth, but it has definitely been going at an even pace, no ups, just kind of the same. How do I want to change that? It all leads back to stepping outside of my comfort zone, outside of my bubble and breaking the ice.
Before I wrote this, I feared that I would reflect on my year and realize that I’ve wasted it, that I didn’t grow from the end of first-year. But when I actually sat down and really thought, month-by-month, week-by-week, how I spent every second and what I learned, I see the difference in my academic and personal growths. Just by reading my first-year reflection article, I can see a huge difference even in my writing style. Everything, small or big, that contributes to our daily lives adds up to something amazing in the end and that something is who we become.