Some of you might be walking into a few of the bigger decisions you’ll ever have to make – whether you’re a first-year student about to apply for your Subject POSt (I highly encourage you to apply for PCJ, which I’ll speak more to later,) figuring out what grad school you want to apply to later in the year (I’m in this boat as we speak,) or whether you’re thinking about post-grad employment, it can all be rather overwhelming and stressful.

Here’s my semi-unqualified opinion on the topic:

The most important thing that I’ve taught myself to understand is that nothing is the end of the world, and as one of my favourite people has once said, “the sun will rise in the morning.” True, this might be easy for someone as successful as former President Barack Obama to say, and yes, it might be a little more difficult for a twenty-year-old to conceptualize, but holding on to this thought has kept me grounded. While lower grades than I’d hoped for and those sly rejection letters to summer jobs have made me a little upset (read: lying on my living room floor and playing Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence on repeat,) I’ve slowly started to understand that tomorrow will always be there, and with the new day, there are new opportunities.

The next step for me is boiling down my intentions to find out what it is that I really want. Committing to certain things has possibly been the biggest worry when I make decisions – what if I don’t like it after a couple weeks? What if, after the experience is over, I don’t walk away with what I had hoped to gain? While I certainly cannot condone gambling, making decisions is somewhat of a risk. The best possible thing that one can do is to make a big list of pros and cons – understand what can go wrong in the worst-case scenario, then look on the brighter side of things and see what can be gained from the opportunity in the best-case position.

For incoming students who are thinking about applying to Peace, Conflict, and Justice: I absolutely would recommend it. I could not picture myself in any other program at UofT other than PCJ. While most of my classes are POL classes, the added community that PCJ offers as well as the deeper, more hands-on experience of the PCJ classes have made my time at UofT so far an absolute joy. Choosing this as my Subject POSt may have been one of the harder decisions I’ve made – and while I have had my fair share of stressful nights studying for courses related to it, I think that I made the right choice after weighing out all my options.

The same pattern of picking what I wanted to study happened in grade 12 – when I had all the information books laid out on the kitchen table and I cried until I finally decided on UofT, it happened when I made the choice to apply for PCJ, and it’s going to happen again in a few months when I choose where I want to apply for grad school. But as I know: the sun will rise in the morning, and with that, these big decisions become less and less daunting.