Hump Day: How can all these grads look so ridiculously young?

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Last Thursday, I was honoured to receive an award from the alumni association of my university — the University of King’s College in Halifax. I shared the award with four other classmates for organizing 1980s class reunions in 2007 and 2012.

I was very surprised to receive the email advising me of the award, but pleasantly so, of course. And needless to say, I was more than thrilled to be sharing it with four great friends, three of whom now reside in the Moncton area. As much as it was a great night, it was also one of those “Oh God, I’m so old!” evenings, though.

I’ve been watching alumni receiving similar awards for years. They’re always distinguished in their communities and careers. I don’t know if I’m distinguished or not, but I do remember feeling pretty good at hearing the master of ceremonies at the alumni dinner last Thursday read my biography along with those of the others. Between us, we’d accomplished quite a bit.

We are often so humble that we don’t want to brag even a tad. Well, you know, I’m going to brag a little bit. We did a pretty darn good job at organizing those reunions and brought people back to King’s who hadn’t been there for decades. People flew in from across the country and even from overseas. I think that’s something of which to be proud.

Hearing our biographies being read from the stage was a proud moment, even though we all consider ourselves still young (and we are), we’ve all been working long enough in our careers to have accomplished a few things. It was great to be recognized by our peers and thanked by the university for our initiatives. Our group hug after the ceremony was the icing on the cake.

In the audience were students who would be graduating in the next week. They looked impossibly young. My favourite line of the night every time I was being introduced to a soon-to-be graduate was, “But you’re only 12!” I even said that to an exceptionally young looking female senior university staff member when I was formally introduced.

When I was in university, the individuals who held her position throughout the years were quite elderly – using canes and everything. She looked like she should be selling Girl Guide cookies door to door or packing groceries on a Saturday morning with her friends to raise funds for her ringette team to travel to a tournament. That must be a matter of aging on my part. I think that of a lot of people these days. “You’re a mere child! You can’t be a doctor or a lawyer or a dentist.”

We’ve all been taught throughout our lives not to be boastful, but there’s a difference between boasting and being proud of your accomplishments. As I continue to be exceptionally busy in my business, I find myself becoming more and more proud that all the hard work I’ve been putting into it is paying off. The networking, the late nights, the volunteer work, etc. It’s been difficult at times – especially when you’re so tired you can barely keep your eyes open – but you push through.

But when I start feeling sorry for myself during especially stressful times, I’ll think back to last Thursday night as they were reading my bio from the stage during the awards ceremony. At some point, a light goes off and you realize that it’s all been worth it. And I’m certainly not alone. My classmates who shared in the award have worked just has hard. Listening to their accomplishments was a boost for me, too. We’ve all worked hard! We didn’t sit around doing nothing for the last 25 years, that’s for sure.

I thought about those soon-to-be graduates watching us accept our awards. I’m sure they thought we are as old as we thought they are young. I also hope we gave them some assurance that hard work pays off. And no, they wouldn’t always be poor. I remember when I graduated, I was so poor that I couldn’t even afford to be late.

These fresh-faced graduates will one day be winning alumni awards of their own and standing up in front of a crowd having their own biographies read. They, too, shall wonder how they got so much done when it seems like it was just yesterday that they were still in university. My friends, it happens to all of us. You just blink and the next you know, it’s 25 years later and you have a family and career.

But you know, I’m happy where I’m at. I wouldn’t go back to just graduating from university. Sure, I may do a few things differently knowing what I know now, but hindsight is always 20/20. Like everyone, I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but I wouldn’t give up the journey that I took. Everything was a learning experience.

As well, as time passes and my business grows, I find myself reaching back for the lessons I’ve learned in a variety of situations and how they can benefit clients. I also find myself being able to call on friends and colleagues from my growing network for assistance — either for myself, colleagues or clients.

Today’s graduates will experience bumps along the road, but I can assure them of one thing: it will all work out. Keep on plugging away. And be brave.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

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