I hope you’re all bundled up in your coziest sweaters, curled up by a window watching the snowflakes drift by as you get ready to flip through the winter edition.
During the winter I often find that with the shorter days and isolation, sitting at home can be the perfect time to reminisce. And what better way to do this, than by reading our newest issue of Youth Mind—The Reflection Issue (thank you to Youth Mind’s talented creative editor, Lea Clarin, for pitching the idea!).
This theme is one that I was particularly excited about exploring and couldn’t wait to see what ideas the team would come up with. Reflecting is something we all do every single day, whether we realize we’re doing it or not.
Maybe it’s because of writing this letter, or maybe it’s the weather keeping me stuck inside with little to do, but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this past year and all the choices that led me here.
This time last year, I had just started at Youth Mind as a contributing editor. It was my first job out of university (shoutout to the pandemic making it near impossible for me to get a job) and loved the position from day one. In both the role I had then, and the role I’m in now, every day has been a new learning experience. I get to read articles on concepts I didn’t know much about, see new perspectives through the talented writing team and get to live out the phrase, “you learn something new every day.”
Looking back even further, this time two years ago I was heading into my last semester of university. Admittedly, I was a bit of a nervous wreck. I had taken on a big role in the school’s annually published magazine and was so stressed about potentially doing a bad job. Without taking on that role, I wonder if I would’ve felt prepared to step into the managing editor role here at Youth Mind.
How about this time six years ago? I was in my last year of high school and trying to figure out what to do next. Looking at different universities and programs, thinking about my future and realizing how much my life would change was stressful to say the least. When I finally made the nerve-racking decision about university, I couldn’t stop thinking about the ‘what ifs?’ and how I had made a huge mistake. I wish I could go back and assure my younger self that no, not a mistake. In fact, it’ll be one of the best decisions I ever made.
But here lies one of the faults of reflecting on the past. You can’t go back to make changes or assure yourself that you’re making the right choice. All you can do is trust in your judgement at the time and learn from whatever decisions you make.
Many of you are probably at a crossroads of some sort, or soon coming up to one. Whether it be deciding whether to move onto post-secondary and what to major in or coming up to the end of your studies and figuring out what to do next, it is impossible to think of the future without consulting our past. It’s our past choices that help us decide how we will move forward and define our future.
Sounds a little stressful, doesn’t it? But holding up a mirror and reflecting on our past doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, it can be a great way to get in touch with ourselves and see all the progress we’ve made. I can’t tell my 18-year-old self that I wouldn’t just like my university program, but would absolutely love it and thrive in the new environment. But I can look back and see what happens when I put trust in my judgement, and use that lesson moving forward.
Reflecting happens on a scale both big and small. Whether it be thinking about fashion trends and how older fashion always makes a comeback, finding ways to cherish positive memories in a not-so-positive relationship or listening to music that reminds us of childhood, reflecting is our bridge between the past and future.
So, take your time in building this bridge and remember that while you can always look back for inspiration, the only way to move is forward.
About the author
Emma Siegel is the former managing editor of Youth Mind. She loves em dashes a little too much—no, really, it’s true—and when she isn’t editing a story or doing research for her next article, you can always find her with a book in one hand and a coffee in the other.