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Getting a dose of my past leaves me with many questions

Today I took a trip down memory lane by visiting the place where I graduated from (and worked) many years ago. I haven’t stepped foot on campus for about 8 years, and York University has changed more than I expected. 

I graduated from the Geography department at YorkU and worked as the GIS technician in the laboratory after my Masters. When my son was school-aged, I left the position for more flexible work so I could do the drop off/pick up. Flexible work was not easy to come by, so I thought about the jobs I’ve been picking up when I was a student. During my university years, I did a lot of freelance editing and tutoring, helping first year and high school students. So, I decided to enroll in a few training programs to become a professional editor (and I will share my whole story one day in another blog post). 

But, with the pandemic and shifts in the publishing industry, editors are slowly becoming obsolete. I say ‘slowly’ because it’s not going to happen quite yet in the next 5 years, but this shift is mainly due to self-published authors changing their spending habits. Many indie authors prefer to spend money on book marketing now as opposed to editing or proofreading, which is a hit for us editors. With all this into consideration, it might be time for me to re-enter the 9 to 5 working realm. After all, I need a source of income to fund for my book releases since I’m not making it big enough yet to be a full-time author from just book sales. 

The funny thing about life is how so many things happen at random (and also all at once). You can’t prepare for it, and when they do happen, it can mean major changes to your daily routine. And even if they were expected, it does take time to adjust to these life changes too.

Imagine a family member suddenly being diagnosed with an illness. You’ll need to spend more time with them, accompany them for appointments, and give them moral support. Let alone, you’re also affected emotionally and mentally as well too with the news. 

Here’s another example to illustrate my point. If your child switched schools because they graduated, then perhaps you’ll be spending more time commuting if the school is further. Plus, they might have more extracurriculars as they get older, or even start working a part-time job. The time you spend together changes, and this might affect you emotionally and mentally as well too.

As you can see, our lives are constantly changing to adapt to our surroundings. This is how we survive – somehow – but I’m sure many of you can agree that change, even if it’s welcomed, can be stressful. This is exactly how I feel right now.

So, let’s get back to the main story here. Why exactly did I decided to visit York University today?

Earlier in the month, my old colleague decided to refer me for a position. I was grateful that they were looking out for me (some of my best days were working on campus and they knew how much I missed working there when I left). But, so much has changed professionally for me since I left campus. All my recent work experiences evolve around writing and editing (nothing geography-related) and although I’m sure I can easily catch on if I brush up, just the thought of potentially working at YorkU again has drowned me with so many memories, emotions, and worries. 

There’s a part of me that’s very overwhelmed. This summer has been a huge adjustment for me at home and at work. For those who know me well, I’m a planner and admittedly feel more confident going into something if I’ve mentally prepared for it. I’m not someone who acts on the spur of the moment easily, unless it’s for something that I can do with my eyes closed. This is me.

For the first time this summer, my son registered for camp and I’ve slowly been letting go of some parental duties too because he’s becoming more independent. I’ve finally accepted that I’m not needed as much anymore to ‘mother’ him … I define this as my ‘new role’ as a parent. It’s almost like I’ve turned from coach to general manager. I guess, some might see it as an upgrade. Perhaps even celebrate because they will have more time to focus on their own things. I, however, don’t see it this way. I actually feel sad. I like to use the coach vs. general manager comparison because both are still required to stay updated with the team players and know about their whereabouts or issues. However, the coach works directly with them, while the general manager watches from a distance. The players connect with their coaches more than their general manager. This is exactly how I feel right now and hope I’m just being a little sensitive.

Work wise, if YorkU ends up selecting me as a candidate, then I will be given a chance to return to my roots. I always view YorkU as my roots because it’s where I learned to branch out, make connections, and grow as an individual. Visiting campus today was a personal mission. I wanted to remind myself of the atmosphere, reconnect with the people in the department, and refresh myself mentally in the event I earned candidacy. Lately, the thing keeping me up at night isn’t writing. I’ve been contemplating life and thinking about how switching from flexible hours to office hours will affect my daily routine. The joys I have as a parent will be affected too, because I’ll be leaving the house before my son wakes up for school. Do I really want to miss out on that morning hug? I know it sounds silly, but these are the things I’ve been thinking about. 

Honestly, when I found out that I was referred, I panicked because I doubted my technical abilities to support the geography department. However, during a recent call with Andy Quan, we had a great discussion on passion writing. I used the comparison between what I’m doing now versus my masters thesis. What surprised me wasn’t the fact that I thought of that comparison to explain my point, but the fact that I was able to speak so passionately about my masters project. Everything from the tech to the tree, it somehow just flowed out of my mouth like I was doing my thesis defense. Maybe I do surprise myself sometimes. (Btw, I did go back and visit my research site while I was on campus – my research tree was still there and thriving!). 

So, if you exclude the fact that I’m incompetent, then the only other worry is how working non-flex hours will affect my editing and writing work schedules. If I can figure this out, then perhaps I’ve worried all for nothing. But with all seriousness, this is an important question because I don’t want to ever give up this passion I have for writing and creative projects. 

After a long day of battling emotions, I returned home a bit more confident, but still just as confused. Until things in the geography department become clearer, I can only trust my instincts and wait to see how things unfold over time.

Stepping away from YorkU has given me an opportunity to find my passion. So, I can only wonder what returning to YorkU will lead to. As the great l’eupe once said: “Only time will tell.”


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