My mother used to say that a higher education was the key to success. She told me that in order to have enough money, and live happily, I needed to have at least a Bachelor’s degree.
University was more than a path to success, it was THE path.
After my undergraduate studies in Quebec City, I was eager to pursue my goal and applied for a Master’s degree. Since I wanted to specialize in medieval illuminated manuscripts, France was very appealing to me. I was dreaming about studying at the mythic Sorbonne in Paris… It turned out that nobody could supervise my thesis in Paris, so I ended up in a beautiful medieval town called Poitiers.
A couple of years later, I graduated from the University of Poitiers. Still, I was not satisfied and felt the need to register in a jointly-supervised PhD between Quebec and France. The more diplomas, the better my chance at success. Right?!
All these years, I never asked myself what I really wanted. It was as if I was running on a treadmill. I was so involved. I spent so many years studying, spent so much money, that I was unable to stop and really question myself. A little voice in my head kept pushing me.
One day, it was too much. I was about to turn 30, and I began to question everything. I realized that I wasn’t happy. So far, my university diplomas didn’t bring me happiness, on the contrary, I was slowly sinking into depression.
What I was taught was not true: you don’t need to have a wall full of diplomas to accomplish yourself. It was a scary discovery, but also a huge relief.
I don’t regret studying in France. I made wonderful friends. I was totally immersed in a different culture (believe me, French-Canadians and French people are REALLY different). I had the chance to hold illuminated manuscripts from the 13th to the 15th century, and I traveled to almost every part of France. Most importantly, I learned to listen to myself and trust my guts.
All those years, my inner voice was warning me that something wasn’t quite right, but I couldn’t hear it, the treadmill was making to much noise.
Other Life Lessons I’ve Learned
- Question yourself and everyone. Don’t take what people say for granted, even if it’s from your parents. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust anybody. It means that you have to listen to your feelings first.
- Life is too short. Don’t spend it doing something you don’t love. It’s only after I had my back against the wall once more that I’ve learned that lesson.
- It’s never too late to turn back and start anew.
What about you?
Were you involved in something you didn’t know how to get out? I’d love to hear from you.
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