By Olivia Scarangella

Writer Olivia Scarangella.

Many of us have a different mindset going into our last year of university versus our first year.

Many students are at that point where they just want to “be done.” I know that’s the way I felt.

The first three years of Ryerson’s journalism program were hard, but it was fourth year that really got to me.

In third year, journalism students begin planning our path to graduation. My plan was simple: start off my fall semester at the Ryersonian, then a six-week internship, followed by the classes I needed to complete to graduate.

However, my life completely changed in the summer going into fourth year. We sold our family business of 49 years.

Jerry’s Supermarket was an Italian-style grocery store and full service butcher shop in the Danforth area, which was originally opened by my grandfather.

The store was a huge part of my life: It is where my dad and uncle worked, my grandmother, grandfather and even my brother. I spent my childhood there. My grandmother lived in the apartment on top of the store for 49 years and, for most of the past four years, I lived there with her.

Change can be good, but also hard. Not only did I have to move out of my home, but a piece of my life just disappeared…Jerry’s Supermarket had now turned into just a memory.

(Courtesy of Olivia Scarangella)

This change in my life was not smooth. It was hard enough to sell, and then when we did, I wondered what was next?

We own another building a couple doors down, which is where I currently live. But it took some time before I could move there, because it was occupied by a tenant who needed time to get out.

This led me to start my fall semester of fourth year without a space of my own. My life was packed away in boxes and tucked away in a storage unit.

I stayed for a while with my boyfriend and for a while with my other grandmother in Whitby.

I still did not feel ready to start my final year. How could I do the Ryersonian and go to an internship if I live out of a bag?

So, I did what all the journalism students do when they need help with their schedule. I went to see Beverly Petrovic, j-school’s student affairs coordinator.

We had a good chat, I pretended that I was fine, and we changed my schedule. I was to do classes in the fall, then an internship and Ryersonian in the winter.

I thought this would work out.

But, what was supposed to be 30 days of no home turned into 60, and no one could do anything about it.

Thankfully, my amazing parents, friends and a boyfriend helped me through this time.

But, the last thing on my mind was trying to find an internship and I wasn’t actively looking and just the idea of having to find one stressed me out.

Eventually, it worked out and I moved in to our place just in time for the winter semester.

But, I felt in the same position as I was a semester ago, not ready.

I was so worried about not graduating with my class or staying on the same track as my classmates, that I started to convince myself that I just needed to “get it over with.”

So, I went back to Bev and I changed my schedule once again.

This time it sounded more promising: I was to do the Ryersonian the winter semester and then do my internship in the spring semester, before convocation in June.

Though it did seem like a good plan, I was procrastinating. I was ignoring the fact that I was not in a place to successfully complete my final year.

In the fall semester of fourth year, school was harder than it had ever been. I thought it would distract me from all that’s going on with my life.

I experienced, and continue to experience, issues with family and finance. That coupled with school struggles and my mental health struggles had put me over the edge.

This year was supposed to be good. But things started happening in school that were out of my control, and then I couldn’t control myself and I had to take a few days off from the Ryersonian.

I started realizing that this whole year was a wake up call: why am I forcing myself through this? I should love school and want to learn.

So as the winter semester began, it became that time to plan my internship…my last step towards graduation.

I had to make a decision: should I plan my internship, get it done, graduate, and just forget all about school? Or should I really think about what’s best for me and my career?

I had to sit there and think about my life and the way I’m currently living it. I was not happy. I was stressed, fed up and, honestly, I felt sorry for myself.

In order to not feel this way, to feel happy, I had to change what I was doing.

Should I stay miserable, and finish school? Or should I take control of my life and finish on my own time?

So, I decided to take control of my life and will not be doing a spring internship. I will be finishing and doing my internship in the fall semester of 2019.

I was so worried about being judged and pointed out for not finishing my degree with everyone else, I ended up losing track of what’s important: my happiness.

Recently, these past couple weeks really had me thinking, especially with all these student marches and protests happening. So many students are fighting for their education rights, and I was sitting here spending most of my last year trying to get it over with?

Graduating is not a race.

Now that I’ve decided to do my internship in the fall, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I’ve made the decision to finish this semester, find a part-time job and hopefully have enough money to go on a trip this summer before finishing my degree.

I’m now making decisions for myself: this plan will result in more happiness. I’ll be in school longer, but it will be worth it.

In the fall, I plan to be in that place where I am ready to work, learn, and be successful in my internship.

I believe this break will help me do just that.

Taking control of your life is so important, and it took me a while to realize it. The only person that can really change your life is you.

Remember that you and your health are more important that your degree.

This is a joint byline. Ryersonian staff are responsible for the news website edited and produced by final-year undergraduate and graduate journalism students at Ryerson University. It features all the content from the weekly campus newspaper, The Ryersonian, and distributes news and online multimedia, including video newscasts from RyersonianTV. Ryersonian.ca also provides videos, images, and other interactive material in partnership with the School of Journalism.

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