Tools to Brave the Wilderness

A large group of students around a bonfire

By Vivian Li, student leader

When in-person school reopened in 2021, I was still two years away from graduation. Although at the time I had already been at McMaster for four years, I felt relieved knowing that I still had two more years. When thinking about leaving school, I felt afraid and uncertain. I wasn’t sure about my future, so the unexpected delay was a gift to me. Apart from feeling uncertain about my future, I was also uneasy about leaving Student Open Circles.

Since the second half of first year, Open Circle has continuously been a place of support, light, and community for me. I attended the Becoming Yourself series regularly, which became an enjoyable routine for me to actively connect with others and spend quality reflection time. The weekly reflection circles were the highlights of my weeks; I loved connecting with others and having a place of comfort where I could be myself. Being on the student leadership team, helping and participating in the events was always fun to me. I was grateful of being in a team where I felt truly supported, that I could contribute my best knowing that others would have my back. And of course, my coaching sessions with Marybeth were precious gifts that nurtured, comforted, and enlivened my soul. In Open Circle, I was loved and seen by many who allowed me to find myself more and more, as I was warmly accepted by all that came my way. I was scared of losing this once I graduate since I felt unconfident moving on without this support.

Two years passed, and now I’m finally at graduation. To my surprise and relief, my fear subsided and vanished. For the first time, I feel ready about the end of this chapter of my life. I still feel uncertain about the future, but I no longer feel unconfident about braving the wilderness on my own after leaving Open Circle as a student. Now I understand my connection with Open Circle will exist forever regardless of where I am and what I am doing. Like my fellow Open Circle graduates, the spirit and light from Open Circle will live on in them too and connect all of us together no matter where we are. Most importantly, I feel confident that I have the tools and the strength to heal and seek guidance myself. I know deep down this is not goodbye.