Fearing Our Futures
by Melina Leonis
When I walk the packed halls of Dawson College, every student I pass has a different emotion plastered on their face. Some new students have a gaze full of wonder, while others furrow their eyebrows in worry. Being so young, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out what we want to do for the rest of our lives; we barely know what to eat for lunch. The scariest part of it all is starting a program that is a supposed straight path to success and then realizing mid-semester, that it feels almost impossible to be in more than half of those courses. Eyelids grow heavy even if the first class starts at noon and kneecaps bounce on the edge of the cold, hard, plastic chairs. This is when an epiphany strikes and an unpredictable dream pops into the minds of students, only to be put on the back burner in fear of not feeling successful.
It can be terrifying when the pressure of life and societal standards are stopping you from pursuing what makes you churn inside. I am sure many of you would stay in a program you don’t want to be in rather than disappoint your family, but the good news is, you are not alone! Not only do lots of students feel the same way, but Elpida Gianopoulos, 30-year-old photographer and owner of Elpida Photography has also been exactly where you are.
"There is hope for any student who is considering making a bold change in their life."
Elpida Gianopoulos has been through a whirlwind of ups and downs to get to where she is presently. She did not walk the straight and narrow but strayed quite a bit from her path. Starting in a Business and Communications program, she studied a total of seven years at Vanier College and Concordia University before realizing that her hobby, photography, could become a successful career.
Just as many of us, before blossoming into the successful photographer she is today, she feared venturing off onto an unpredictable path. Just over a year ago, she opened up her new eye-catching studio in Laval to start bigger and more impactful projects.
She says this of students who dream of becoming something they deem too difficult or unrealistic, “I wish I could have realized sooner that doing what you love crushes the fear of not being successful by a million miles. I would tell any student to keep a positive mindset and trust that you are good enough, and not to get discouraged with all of the invisible pressures of success that social media puts on us, because let’s face it, it is part of our daily lives and can hinder confidence in many subtle ways.”
Currently, at Dawson, many students are contemplating or already transferring to one of our arts programs. Romello Occhialini, a second-year photography student at Dawson, speaks on how the Social Science program at Dawson feels as if it is drowning in teenagers who don’t particularly know what they want in their lives, which is why he chose to go into photography. He states that he “had done a personal project pertaining the works of my photography and decided that [he] wanted to shoot architectural photography; it is a dream that is tangible and beautiful.”
William Bissonnette is a third-year student who started in Health Sciences and transferred into Illustration. “I think switching into this program was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I knew in my heart that if I read the periodic table one more time my head was going to explode, but I did not want to disappoint my parents. At the end of the day, I realized that this was my life, my path and my journey, and the only person who will live with the pain of being unhappy is myself. My family would get over it, but I wouldn’t.”
Every student can relate to Gianopoulos and can understand that impractical goals are only impractical if you allow them to be. Over a decade ago when she was still studying, social media was not as present as it is today. Even so, she still felt the pressures of the internet.
After opening up her new business she faced this battle all over again. “Growing up is terrifying. But how often do you say that you regret doing something and how often do you wish you did something you didn’t have the guts to do? Taking a leap of faith and learning a lesson is much better than living an entire other life wondering what true happiness would have been like.”
There is hope for any student who is considering making a bold change in their life. Although it may be petrifying, do not believe that social media defines your success. You have your own set of goals that are dreamt to be met and just like Elpida Gianopoulos, if you work hard enough and believe in your uniqueness, you will hit the jackpot.