Today during the Jumpstart program, a university preparation course, I had the opportunity to speak to students about the transition into university. I wrote out some notes last night (as I like to procrastinate) on what I thought was an important message to send out as the academic year is soon to begin. Below is essentially what I said to them (though due to how nervous I was, it didn’t quite sound exactly the same way). Some of it may seem funny, and other parts unfunny, but if you know my speaking style, there are some jokes in there. Anyways, I hope you enjoy and I certainly hoped the students enjoyed the session today!
I feel like an introduction may be a little redundant, since I’ve already met most of you, be it through recruitment or through the Lion’s Den, but I like to talk about myself, so I’ll say a few words there to get the ball rolling.
I am going into my third year at Glendon, as a Political Science student in the international Bachelor of Arts degree, and aiming to gain a Certificate in Law and Social Thought as well as the Certificate of Bilingual Excellence. I will also be flying to France one week today to begin my year abroad in Rennes to study at SciencesPo.
Though I participated in this session during last years Jumpstart program, I have no clue as to what I talked about, because I have an awesome memory like that. When I was asked to participate this year, I said “Absolutely!”, and then I was like “Oh no, what am I supposed to say that I haven’t already said to these students?” But I thought today I might play the part of motivational speaker.
I’d like to begin by asking telling a story and asking a question. When I left London, Ontario after a year off school working at Starbucks, to come to Glendon, I was filled with regrets and ready for a fresh start. Regret for choices I made, actions I took, and words I wish I could take back. Whether it had been in high school, or in regular life (because really, who considers high school part of “real life” anyways), there were things I wish I hadn’t done. So I ask, whether you are coming from high school, another post-secondary institution, or simply the school of life, how many of you feel the same way coming to Glendon, looking for a sort of “fresh start”?
Well, I came to Glendon and still, I made some bad decisions, I acted in mysterious ways, and I said some things that, looking back, probably didn’t get me ahead in the game. But to me, that’s okay.
Being a student is a very special time in life, no matter your age or maturity level (trust me on that), because you’re in a very special zone of responsibility. Yes, you are supposed to be responsible individuals, but the rest of the world understands that it’s okay to make mistakes. To be a student means you are someone who wants to keep learning, which is more awesome that we typically appreciate on a day-to-day basis.
Looking back over my time as a student, I don’t regret the things I did, even though I sometimes wish I had known better. What I regret more is the things I didn’t do. It’s too easy to look back and say “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that, I shouldn’t have said this.” We ought to look back and say, “Why didn’t I say yes to helping out with that conference or art exhibition? Why didn’t I go on that trip with my new friends? Why didn’t I go out with those people, even though I don’t know them that well, to do whatever it is they’re doing?”
Student life is a life of opportunities coming at us. We can’t grasp at all of them (and if you want more information about that then ask me about how my first year went), but we can’t let them all pass by us either. I look back through my time here at Glendon and think, “Why didn’t I have the guts to take a performance class? Why didn’t I make the time in first year to take Spanish instead of worrying and saying I’ll just take it later? Why didn’t I get outside on more weekends to go exploring with my friends, around Toronto, or just around Glendon? Why was I so scared to speak French to the international students?”
Many of us come into post-secondary education thinking that this is the time for less play, more work. The time when we’ve made our choice of what to study and thus we need to focus in one direction only moving forward. I argue that this is false. If there was ever a time to branch out and try new, varying experiences, it wasn’t high school, it’s now. This could very well be the last few years of your life when it’s easy to spend a couple hours a week pursuing your interests and getting credit for it, or trying a new hobby and being able to add it to your resume.
I don’t like cliches, even though I’m full of them (and song lyrics too, if you’ve ever had a over-caffeinated conversation with me) so I won’t say, “Seize the Day.” What I will say though, is that there’s no such thing as a waste of time as long if you’ve learned something at the end of it.
So I conclude with the attention back on what’s important: me. I’d like to become an interesting person. Someone who people can talk about and say, “Oh, Drew, he’s interesting and edgy and mysterious.” But I learned that people who are interesting, are so because they have interesting stories to tell, and interesting stories come from interesting and new, and sometimes weird, experiences. To get those, we have to stop worrying about regretting what we might do, or what we’ve done. The goal should always be to just aim to never be able to look back and regret what we didn’t do.