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My Life After Leaving College

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My recent life changes have had costs and benefits. I was forced to leave my university life, which caused me to struggle with loss. The pain created some unexpected positive changes and led me to important realizations about myself. All of these have had a powerful impact on me.

Being forced to leave university was very painful. My university adopted Alberta’s Restriction Exemption Program. None of the options given to allow me to continue my education were suitable. That left Academic Leave as my only choice. 

School was my purpose. It gave me a sense of belonging, as well as learning opportunities. I love to learn and found fulfillment in my university classes. Most of my social interactions also came during school. I was often involved in lively class discussions about the texts we studied. I could also say hello to people in the hallways and eat lunch with friends. 

The removal of my school life removed my ability to participate in those activities. I talk with only a few people regularly now and have forgotten how to make conversation. My days are very routine as well, which is not helpful. Decreased physical freedom compounds the issues that I face. I go for walks and can go shopping but am allowed to do little else due to the strict Covid restrictions in my area. Since I am blind, I rely on my other senses to understand the world. 

I find that the restrictions stifle those senses. Touching is discouraged, which means that I cannot explore my surroundings. I am also deprived of important information about those I meet because I am not allowed to shake their hands. Masks muffle people’s voices, which harms communication. That increases the feeling of being anonymous. These factors make me less willing to engage with the world and more willing to embrace my quiet routine.

While dealing with my losses, I notice that I am gaining spiritual understanding. I joined a mindfulness meditation group, which brought several positive outcomes. Meditation gave me a stronger understanding of my faith. I sense a deeper connection to the divine presence in everyday moments. This allows me to better appreciate the small, important aspects of living. 

The interactions that I have with others have gained new significance. Being able to say hello to a friend, asking and being asked how I am are no longer just part of the daily exchange. They are truly meaningful ways to connect with others. Being part of the group made me feel accepted by offering those valuable connections. 

I am deeply grateful for the warmth that acceptance provides. Meditation also taught me to be more open and less judgmental towards myself. It is a calming influence that makes facing daily problems easier. My increased spiritual awareness enables me to connect more strongly with the blessings that I am discovering.

This situation taught me important lessons about myself. I am realizing what I truly want in life. I want to find ways to be a light for those who need a little extra. 

The Covid mandates cause people to fear each other. This saddens me because fear prevents them from forming meaningful connections. I am determined to do my best to change that. We need to spread kindness, rather than fear, in order to have a positive influence.

I recognize that sharing my thoughts furthered my growth. It was a valuable method of processing my pain. Understanding that pain enabled me to grasp the full importance of maintaining the freedoms that I possess. That knowledge will allow me to begin working to reclaim the lost ones. My self-revelations have increased my capacity to hope.

I have struggled with many challenges and experienced growth during the past while. Having to give up my freedoms and connections left me with a deep sense of loss. However, I recognize that those losses have fostered my spiritual development, which I will continue to nurture. I write this with the intention to give others the strength to hope for something better.

Author

  • Serena Johnson is an English major who studied at The King's University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for five years. She was one of the university's first blind students. She was forced to take Academic Leave due to the vaccine mandate, which negatively impacted her ability to learn.

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