Graduation Season

With so many graduations happening this month, I've found myself reflecting a lot on milestones, career paths, and what it truly means to succeed. A powerful message that has resonated deeply with me over the years has always been: "It's never too late to do whatever you want." Every year when I see people gearing up for graduation, I feel compelled to share my own journey in the hopes that others may draw encouragement or feel validated in their own pace.

Back in 2004, I graduated high school without a real plan and headed off to Halifax for university. My time there was far from smooth sailing, and after 3.5 tumultuous and emotional years, I found myself dropping out with just one semester left to go (cue the existential "whyyyyyyy"). In hindsight, I have empathy for who I was back then. I was so young, and navigating relationships and responsibilities the best I could at such an immature time in my life. Returning home, I quickly got a job as a hostess at a local restaurant, where I began to really find my footing.

It was during this time that I really started to form healthy habits and relationships. My job gave me structure and offered me a social outlet. I was surrounded by my family, and I made really important lifelong friendships during this time. I had an active social life and my life felt balanced. I really started to feel like I belonged somewhere. 

In 2010, encouraged by my family and then-boyfriend (now husband), I made the decision to resume my studies at the University of New Brunswick. I continued to work, and only went back to school part time. My first class back was Poetry 1000, which I took with my 8-years-younger brother, who was now also attending university.

In Halifax, I had started my degree in English, but when I transferred to UNB, I thought I should change gears and go for a degree in Economics. You have to pass Statistics as a pre-requisite for an Econ degree. I got a D, so I retook the class and then I got an F. True story.

Finally, in 2013, at the age of 27, I walked across the stage at UNBSJ, with my degree in English. Feeling somewhat adrift in my "career," I reluctantly settled into an office job, grappling with feelings of inadequacy and a nagging sense of being behind. I was deeply concerned that I was too old to try anything new and that I had basically missed my chance to do everything the right way. To add insult to injury, I absolutely hated my job, dreaded going in to work everyday and felt completely paralyzed and trapped to do anything about it.

And as it does, life continued. We had a baby, and then another one. After the birth of my second son in 2016, I decided I wanted to stay home fulltime with our kids for a few years. It wasn't the easiest thing for us to be able to make work financially, but we were lucky enough to be able to make it work. During this time, I dipped my toes into various ventures – from knitting and selling hats to running a wholesale knick-knack business. I blogged, I was a virtual assistant, I dipped my toes into photography – I tried it all.

Maybe the point of all this is just to say that before I ever felt successful, I felt really, deeply unsuccessful. Looking back, I can see more clearly that all I was doing was learning about myself and where I fit into the world. When you are experiencing fear and anxiety, it is very difficult to see yourself as anything other than a failure. With time and perspective, I've come to understand that every instance I berated myself for falling short was, in essence, a triumph of a different kind.

In 2018, at the age of 32 (and 7 months pregnant with our third son), the NB Box was born. This venture has been nothing short of a whirlwind, surpassing my wildest dreams and leading me down unexpected avenues of growth and fulfillment.

It's never too late to pursue your dreams. More importantly, it's never too late to redefine them. The truth is, there's never a "right" time to embark on something new, nor are we ever truly prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. It's about embracing uncertainty, being willing to fail, and refraining from comparing our journey to others. Every path is unique, and success takes many forms - the best part is that you can decide what it looks like for you.

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