My last post on twowildtides was published in late September of 2019. Almost six months ago. We went from posting twice weekly to not posting for almost six whole months. We missed you. We missed twowildtides. But we don’t regret the break.
To even begin to describe where I went in September 2019, we need to rewind five years. September 2014. I had recently graduated high school and moved from a tiny town in Central Newfoundland to York University, in the Greater Toronto Area. It was my first semester of university, I was living in a fun residence with some beautiful girls (inside and out) including Linds, and I was studying for my dream job: photography. But I wasn’t having any fun. Why? Well, I certainly was feeling a whole lotta homesickness, but I think most people think that’s the end of that story. “She was homesick so she moved home.” Or at least, I thought that’s how people viewed me. I was also feeling: 1) disappointed that my big fancy art school dream wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, 2) bummed that the GTA is not Toronto, contrary to my small-town understanding, and 3) shocked and disoriented from the realization that I didn’t actually want to study fine art nor be a career photographer! So, I took those feelings and flew home after one semester. I am still so proud of myself for making that decision despite all the emotional tension surrounding me at that time. Do I regret going? Was it a waste of time? Absolutely not. If I hadn’t gone, I might still be on a path toward the totally wrong career for me. I wouldn’t have met Linds. And I always would have wondered what my life ‘could have been’ if I had just chased my dreams and gone to York University to study photography.
That December, I was left pondering some pretty existential questions for a 17-year-old. The most minor ones probably being ‘who am I?’ and ‘who do I want to be?’ (yeah, there was a lot going on in teenaged-Char’s head at that point). On Christmas Day, I was celebrating with family and my aunt, who is an amazing social worker, started talking about some interesting things happening at her work. Something clicked. It clicked in a way that photography, fashion, and the big city never did. I knew the path I was ready to explore. In the new year, I packed up again from my small town and moved to a much closer city (262 km to be exact): St. John’s. I started picking up courses at Memorial University such as psychology, sociology, and political science. I was learning so much and I was truly excited by what I was learning. I had my car. I was hiking and exploring in and around the city. I felt a freedom I hadn’t felt before. By the following September, a year after I started at York, I was enrolled in ‘Introduction to Social Work’ and feeling on top of the world. I finally had it figured out!
So, with my transcript highlighting all the prerequisites I needed, reference letters and personal statements organized impeccably; I applied to Memorial University’s Faculty of Social Work. I was strutting a pretty big walk from what I remember. I was class president in high school, I was accepted to fancy ol’ York University in ‘Tronno’, and I usually always got what I wanted. Good things happened to me. I was going to get accepted. (I’ve since learned a fancy word for all those things: PRIVILEGE).
It didn’t happen. Womp, womp. But I wasn’t denied admission. They didn’t even look at my application. Why? The cover page was missing from my package. THE COVER PAGE. I was humiliated, irate, devastated. I cried a lot, yelled a lot, beat myself up a lot, blamed the administration at the school a lot. I had an elaborate idea worked out about what happened to that cover page I was certain I had completed (it involved incompetent staff, lack of security cameras, and the school having undergone construction at the time I submitted my application). But the truth is, maybe I forgot it. Maybe. Or, maybe someone else lost it. Either way, I learned a hard lesson: sh*t happens and good things don’t always happen to you just cause you’re you. From there, I learned another important lesson: fight for what you want and what you believe you deserve. So, I fought. I wrote letters and held meetings and filed appeals. And then comes hard lesson number three: sometimes you can fight your hardest and strongest and you still don’t win.
I (bitterly) accepted my fate and continued studying. I had completed almost enough courses to graduate with a BA in Sociology when I got the news I’d been waiting for. My second application was accepted. I was in! It was 2017 and I had real classmates and faculty jackets and together, we had a fancy name: Memorial University Bachelor of Social Work, Class of 2020. I loved all of my courses. I invested myself in projects like I never had before. I worked and volunteered and applied everything I learned to what I was studying, building a portfolio and resume that I am really proud of (and don’t mind tooting my own horn about). I really liked my classmates, too. I made amazing, lifelong friends and even rekindled old friendships through studying social work. Together, we partied, fundraised, gave back to the community, and made plans for convocation. I worked my way through two exciting, fulfilling, and challenging field placements. We all worked so damn hard. I am so damn proud. Two and a half years flew by faster than I could have ever imagined.
So, here we are, September 2019, when I posted my last article on twowildtides. The last in-class semester of Memorial’s BSW program is in the last fall semester of the program and is arguably the hardest. Between putting my all into school, working and volunteering almost full-time, and maintaining a healthy social life; there was no time for twowildtides. I didn’t know my last post would be my last. It just stopped. Took a backburner. And honestly, I am glad it did. I can look back on the last year of my degree and say with confidence: “I gave it my all and I succeeded.” To me, this feels better than being able to say, “I balanced the most” or “I managed to get by with so much on my plate.” So, that’s where I’ve been!
Now we’re a quarter way into 2020. Today would have been my last day of my last field placement, which would have represented the last day of six long years of hard work and studying. There would have been a fun, wine-fuelled night out with a fancy dinner and a dance on George Street to celebrate. I would be officially registering as a professional social worker within the next month and walking across the stage in my cap and gown within the next two. Instead, I am social distancing. I am isolating myself from my family, friends, and classmates. Our field placement was cut short. Our convocation and gala are cancelled. No parties or celebrations in sight. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that is ending lives and economies. Social workers are needed now more than ever. All I want to do right now is get to work and help people. But, my classmates and I are caught in a limbo. We aren’t yet graduated, so we can’t register to work professionally. We must wait, and wait I shall.
I am incredibly privileged (there’s that word again!) to have good health, an amazing partner I live with and see every day, and supportive friends and family I can connect with virtually. I am so lucky that despite the situation in the world, I will graduate on time and receive my degree in a short while. I know that my situation is ‘better’ than many right now. But, I am allowed to mourn the plans I had made to celebrate my huge accomplishment. I am allowed to be sad about my ambitions for the next few months and years being put on hold. And so are you, for whatever you’re going through. We will get through this.
I did not expect my return to blogging to sound like what this article has morphed into. Mostly because six months ago I couldn’t possibly fathom our world looking this way, but partly because I just sat down at my laptop to say a quick ‘hi’ to everyone and here I am, three pages later, with so many different emotions poured into this document. This is what twowildtides might look like from now on. Linds and I writing what comes from our hearts, whenever it decides to come. We might not place such strict expectations on ourselves about when and how often we should be posting. We’re going to let the passion come back naturally. And we hope you’ll join us for the ride.
Lots of love and all the swell thoughts,