Yes, it’s that time of the year again! The year is ending, it’s holiday season, winter break is here, exams are starting and 2016 is about to begin! The past year has gone by in the blink of an eye and I cannot emphasize its importance in my life. It has made me stronger, smarter and a much better person then I was in the beginning of the 2015, as I’m sure this is the case for a lot of the GEMgirls.

I’ve lost family members and friends but have many additions to the family and made even better friends then I had before. My mom always tells me “Patience is the key to success. Just give it time.” This year, specifically starting grade 12, has taught me just that. Time doesn’t stop for anyone; the most important thing however, is how you decide to spend it.

I’ve figured out my priorities and stopped over thinking all my decisions which, hands down, is my biggest accomplishment and the main reason I’m happier. The year had a rough start because of a death in the family and that affected my grades but second semester, I told myself I have to start working harder for what I want- which is getting into a good university. I realized that I don’t have a lot of time left with my friends and family because I’ll live on campus, so I spent the summer with them and I’ll remember every single moment for the rest of my life. Towards the middle of summer, I applied to GEM because of a friend. And look what it’s meant now! I’ve got so many new friends, an amazing mentor and a lot of women I can look up to. With grade 12 starting, I diverted all my attention to my marks and extra-curricular and now with the semester ending, I’m focusing on applying to good universities. The point I’m trying to make is, through all of this I was extremely stressed and didn’t think it would ever get better but in the end, it has all worked out. I’m positive that I’ll say the same thing at the end of 2016 too and laugh at stressing to get into a good program.

Being a senior, everyone expects me to have everything together- from my personal life to my marks and getting into coveted universities. Sometimes I don’t have it all together and I’ve learned to accept that. Sometimes I get confused too. So what do I do? I turn to my friends and my family. They’re my real treasure, my most prized possessions and even if I lose everything else, I’ll still have them. Not just in 2015 or 16, but for the rest of my life.

And to all the GEMgirls, we’re just in high school and there a lot of thing we haven’t figured out yet but all I’m going to say is that it doesn’t have to make sense right now. Our careers and even our lives have just started. Eventually the puzzle pieces will fit. Have an amazing year!

Shanzah Zulfiqar is a grade 12 studen at Marc Garneau C.I., a GEMgirl and Creative Writing Intern at GEM.