For some time, I’ve been mulling over what I want to do with my life. That’s what 20-year-olds are supposed to do, right? When I was 19 it seemed like I could just ponder different paths and avenues. While I can definitely still do that, it feels like there is more pressure to just get on with it already. I’ve hit a whole new decade of demands and desires, and it’s time to jump on in.
Up until recently, I’ve always considered myself to be someone who doesn’t finish things. I definitely started a lot of things; when I was younger I started colouring in a colouring book, in my mid-teens I started learning sign language, I started diary entries and finished them early, and also never finished the book with entries that were left like mould in my head. I picked up a guitar and that lasted for a good chunk of five years, but now it’s collecting dust. What happened? I consider myself a motivated and passionate person, but I still end up thinking back to all of this guilt that comes with leaving a project behind.
It was only recently that I learned that all of this was okay, and that I was only doing this in an attempt to find something I was purely interested in and committed to. I didn’t realize it for a couple of years, but there are some passions in my life that had remained constant and I look forward to those passions outlining prominent goals in my future. I’ve learned to forgive myself for these unfinished things because I was searching for a sense of direction. I’m very happy I tried a lot of things because, by a process of elimination, I feel like I for sure know what it is I want to do. I want to make the world a better place.
It’s ambiguous. It’s hippie-sounding. It’s bold. Although it also sounds too dreamy, I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. I came to it rather seriously, because making the world a better place should require a sincere amount of commitment. Frankly, at this point, it should take everything we’ve got. Like I said, I didn’t come to this lightly; after just a couple years of studying planning, I’ve developed a vague plan in my head for how I personally want to make my mark in my society. This plan has been one of my constant passions; one which I have not even once considered abandoning. I want to work in the public sector. I have to. I feel like it’s a life calling. You can consider me closed minded, to which I will note that I have experienced private sector work as it relates to landscape architecture, and I don’t see that work as part of my long-term goals. I want to work for government; I want to be the voice for the people. I need to do this.
If you look at my Twitter account today, you will see that I am actively politically engaged. This is only a response to my interest of what I want to become. This engagement in social issues surrounding situations like poverty, climate change, and accessibility did not just happen like the flick of a wrist. In my early high school days, I took a civics course as every Ontarian student does. I was instructed to find an issue that my city’s governance was attempting to solve. In addition to outlining the issue and the councilors’ suggestions to solving it, I was to also provide a suggestion about how to solve this issue. This was, I think, my first formal introduction to planning; my first formal attempt at making my community a better place.
Like I said before, my passions only recently hit me as a constant interest that I had not yet abandoned. This happened in a way that made me realize that these passions had creeped up on me over the years after that civics course as that constant interest. In grade 10, I participated in a walk through the downtown core of Belleville, my home town. During this walk, we discussed how the downtown could benefit from artistic changes or additions to the built environment. I and my class were bubbling with ideas – murals on that brick wall! A water fountain in this cement block! – and it was only a couple months after that day that I realized I wanted to learn about what seemed to be my current interest – how to develop communities.
I experience this interest as an addictive yearning to solve problems for the betterment of society. I frequent social media to find, for example, where pedestrian accessibility is impacted, and sit for a minute and just think about that situation in its entirety. I love developing my opinions of what cities are doing right and what they are doing wrong, and pondering what I would do to organize a solution to this issue. Over the years this has developed into something I am now determined to continue: making the world a better place by influencing community change as a public servant.