As my fifth and final year of university comes to a close, I am left reflecting on the broken promises that were made to me before I entered.

Friendships that I had been told would last a lifetime have mostly come to abrupt or unexpected ends. My academic life hasn't provided the cushy career aspects I had expected. My mental health has gone through quite a roller-coaster.

But yet I am still left with hope and a sense of renewed purpose.

I went in with the expectation that university would adequately prepare me for the job market, giving me the knowledge and planning necessary to jump into a career. It did not. My years studying sociology didn't set the stage for entering into the job market, instead leaving it up to my extracurricular interests, such as writing for the Gazette.

I did not come here expecting it to be perfect, I didn’t expect some divine intervention by God’s will to give me everything I had desired upon entering. But in all of this dread, in all of this fear of the future and worry I find solace in the fact that university did one thing I didn't expect of it:

University taught me about myself; what I value, who I am as a person, what my dreams and aspirations are.

I'm graduating with less friends than I would have once wanted, but I know and understand the strength of the friendships that have lasted. Life-long friendships that were promised to me by advocates of the "university experience" are but shadows, save for the few who fit that glorious profile (and to whom, I give a loving regard).

Having a handful of friends I can trust and with whom I can engage in friendly rhetoric despite differences in political standings, religion, beliefs, etc. are far more valuable to me. Especially in contrast to a crowd of people who I walk on eggshells around and have to lie to myself to stay close to (such as the friendships that have been broken over Facebook arguments and differences in political opinion). 

I'm graduating with lower marks than I wanted, but have experience that will help pave the path toward my future aspirations; aspirations that are no longer born from a desire to please others but rather a desire to satisfy myself. Having a direction in my life means that I have a guide toward a future that I can rely on, even when things go wrong.

Finally, I'm graduating with more knowledge about the various mental health problems I am burdened with, but have the ability to be more honest with myself about them and, perhaps more importantly, how to deal with them. University has brought me in touch with many failures but those have led to many lessons in turn.

University has been nothing like what I expected it to be. It has changed me in ways I didn’t want and has given me things I didn't need. But I'd like to believe that despite many things going down an unexpected route, it was all for the best in the end. Perhaps that's me being overly optimistic, but I hope not.

My life here has been a ship I so desperately tried to steer to no avail. Whether it be a result born of my own misunderstanding of the true purpose of university or God steering that ship for me, I am forever grateful for what Western University has given me.