Looking back at 2023, and looking forward to 2024: four students share their reflections

Dry pillowcases
Keira Johannson

On the first day of January, I rang in the new year from the comfort of my childhood bedroom, tucked under fresh, warm bed sheets and dressed in Christmas pajamas gifted to me by my parents. On the first day of January, despite being happy to be home and far away from exams and class projects, I rang in the new year in solitude by crying myself to sleep. 

There’s a familiar comfort found in salty teardrop stains on cotton pillowcases. Some of my best sleeps have occurred after a tear-jerker rom-com, a breakup with an ex-boyfriend, or even after a battle of buying concert tickets on Ticketmaster. Crying exhausts me. But I also find comfort (and maybe even satisfaction) in feeling sorry for myself. However, on January 1, 2023, I decided that my New Year’s resolution would be to keep my pillowcases dry; I was going to stop feeling sorry for myself. 

This year began with tears. Although I love when things come full circle, I’m confident that the year won’t end the same way it started. From solo dates at art galleries and indie pop concerts to traveling abroad in Europe alone for the first time, 2023 was the year of embracing solitude. 

In 2023, I learned to be okay on my own again. I read from literary fiction novels on checkered blankets in local playgrounds and I pondered century-old artwork in museums and galleries. I roamed cobblestone streets in Florence with a skip in my step and I ordered escargot at cafés in Paris—and didn’t feel embarrassed when I butchered my lackluster French. 

But most importantly, in 2023, I traded mindless goal setting with mindful intentions. I made decisions and followed them through. I went to sleep at night and woke up without shedding a tear. In 2023, I kept a promise and my pillowcases stayed dry.


Social media, school, and stationery
Hannah Grace Wang

As I approach the end of this year, I can’t help but wish I had done more. More in school, more with my stationery business, and more with social media. I suppose it’s not uncommon to feel a little melancholy at the end of the year and wish you had achieved more. But what is more? Will more ever turn into enough?

Balancing life as a full-time student and small business owner (among other responsibilities) can be overwhelming at times, but as I enter this season of reflection, I try to remind myself I’ve done what I can. For me, wanting more is an abstract idea. While I don’t think more will ever turn into enough, I can show myself compassion for the things I did achieve. I published my very own colouring book, travelled to Iceland with my mom, learned more about myself than the last couple of years combined, experienced my first relationship heartbreak, learned to crochet, and felt the loneliest I’ve ever felt.

There’s something to be said about reflecting on the past, and how it brings a plethora of emotions. But the thing is, I’ve learned and grown and lived. And that is enough.


A tapestry of triumphs, gratitude, and resolutions
Debbie Wong

As the sun sets on 2023, it’s only fitting to pause and reflect on the journey this year has been. My journey this past year has been nothing short of transformative, marked by a series of personal triumphs that have sculpted the person I am today.

From the simple act of prioritizing self-care to the monumental milestone of getting my first car, each achievement has woven itself into the fabric of my year. These moments, often overshadowed by the cacophony of daily life, are the pillars of resilience that upheld me throughout the challenges.

Amidst the hustle, I’ve learned that true success lies in the balance of personal and academic pursuits. Hence, my New Year’s resolutions serve as a compass for the upcoming chapter. Aiming for a perfect 4.0 GPA signifies not just a commitment to academic excellence but a dedication to pushing my intellectual boundaries. Journaling and reading are promises to cultivate a mindful existence, fostering personal growth and introspection.

As the ink dries on the pages of 2023, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, with growth and gratitude. Together, let’s embrace the lessons learned and the dreams waiting to unfold in the unwritten pages of 2024.


Some final words before our new start in 2024
Vanessa Bogacki

When the academic semester comes to an end, our minds and hearts feel several emotions linked to this change. The first is stress, as all university students enter their final weeks of classes. Multiple papers, tests, and exams are now haunting us daily, making us wish we hadn’t skipped that 9 a.m. class to get some extra sleep. 

As a senior student, I’m sad, as I realize that my time at UTM is slowly coming to an end. My core undergraduate experiences will no longer be realities. Instead, they will transition into memories that I will look back on and laugh about. It’s a time to self-reflect on the journey that I’ve undergone within UTM and the accomplishments I’ve achieved as an undergraduate student. 

Excitement roams our minds, as we now know a fresh start is just around the corner. As we slowly welcome the new year, we are reminded that 2024 is a time for change, growth, laughter, and success, as it opens new doors for students. The thrill of beginning a new semester, having chances to meet new people, and growing within ourselves is an extremely welcoming experience we all share.

With 2024 just around the corner, I wish all UTM students good luck on their finals. May 2024 be the start of a journey that inspires a fresh chapter in all our lives. 

Arts & Entertainment Editor (Volume 50); Staff Writer (Volume 49) — Hannah is in her final year double majoring in Communications, Culture, Information and Technology (CCIT) and Professional Writing and Communications (PWC). In her spare time, Hannah runs her sticker shop The Aesthetics Studio and listens to podcasts while drawing. Hannah’s previous publications include PWC’s official journal of creative non-fiction in Mindwaves Vol. 15 and research in Compass Vol. 9 and 10. She also served as an Associate Editor for Compass Vol. 9 and Vol. 10. Hannah was a Staff Writer for The Medium Vol. 49 and 50 before becoming the A&E Editor. You can connect with Hannah on LinkedIn.

Staff Writer (Volume 50) — Vanessa is a fourth-year student double majoring in Psychology and English with a minor in Education. When she’s not working or studying, she enjoys picking up a good novel and escaping into the world of reading or playing some of her favourite songs on her record player. She also loves writing. You can often find her journaling throughout her day.

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