How I turned the strike’s disruption into innovation

It was 5 a.m. and as dark as midnight. I was up doing my long-anticipated two-mile run, stopping at a convenience store to figure out what my kids would take for lunch that day. It had been two days since I found out that the five-week-long college strike was coming to an end, and I had decided that morning to take the lemons the strike had given out and make a real sweet glass of lemonade.

Before the strike, all I could think about was the fact that my work ethic needed to be good enough so I could get a good recommendation to my internship of choice. My grades needed to be good enough if I wanted to get into my university of choice.  I needed to make honour roll so that when I received my diploma, the word “honours” would be announced after my name, for my family but, more importantly, my kids to hear.

The pressure was breaking me down. I would sit to write a paper and type, delete, type, delete. I wasn’t completing my assignments, because what if I did them and they weren’t good enough?

By then, rumours had started circulating that the faculty might be going on strike.  However, I tried to stay focused. I didn’t want a strike to come and I hadn’t made any of my deadlines. Work continued to pile up, and I wasn’t completing assignments at the pace I needed to in order to catch up. I broke down in front of my teachers, saw a counsellor, and even attempted to work with learning strategies.

And then there was a strike.

I told myself that I would do school work during the strike. And I tried, at first. But then I took a break. A five-week-long break. A break I hadn’t taken for years. Because when I wasn’t focused on school, I was focused on my photography business. If I wasn’t busy with my own business, I was busy working for someone else’s business, all while trying to maintain a family and a home and raise three children.

During my break, I took a trip to Montréal, where I didn’t have to worry about school or work or kids. When I got back, I slept and meditated. I spent my friend’s birthday weekend in Niagara Falls. And when I got back from there, I slept and meditated some more.

And then the strike was over. It was time to make some lemonade.

At my first class back, my program co-ordinator explained that deadlines would be extended. I felt like I could breathe again. I felt as though I had been given a second chance. But there was one specific part of his speech that resonated with me. He explained that sometimes disruption brings innovation. Yes!

This strike was a big disruption for everyone involved. However, I took it as a break, and through my break, I was that innovation. I learned a new way of thinking. I was given time to get back on my feet, something I probably couldn’t have done until I took a step back.

And I think it worked, because, with that all being said, I just made my deadline.