Hump Day: Some words of wisdom for graduates

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

It seems like an entire batch of young people I know are graduating from high school or university this year. The good side is that you get invited to some nice get-togethers among friends and family to celebrate. If you’re really lucky, however, you get to go to the parties and skip the god-awful boring graduation ceremonies.

My high school graduation – the 1982 class of École Mathieu-Martin – was apparently the largest graduating class in school history with more than 500 graduates. It was a thousand degrees outside that day 33 years ago. Inside the J.-Louis Levesque Arena at the Université de Moncton, it was probably twice that hot.

As we sat there in the sweltering heat in our gowns and formal attire, most of us fanned ourselves with our programs to make it bearable. We were, however, warned against doing so because it would seem undignified seeing that it was such an important event in our lives. Many of us obeyed until we eventually figured out that we weren’t about to be denied our diplomas because we created a bit of a comforting breeze around us with a piece of cardboard – so we went ahead and fanned ourselves as if our lives depended on it. I don’t think anyone’s diploma was shredded before we hit the stage.

graduatesAs silly as it sounds, this was the first time I remember feeling like public school was really over. The teachers who lorded over us (most of them benevolently, may I add) for years were still trying to control us for silly little things like fanning ourselves inside a hot and humid arena. Although it was a baby step, many of us realized as the ceremony dragged on that fanning ourselves with our programs was a bit of harmless rebellion which was starting on us on our journeys.

For the most part, the only other times I’d been in the J.-Louis Levesque Arena was for Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling matches in the 1970s and 1980s – also in the sweltering heat. I still remember being petrified when a couple of wrestlers – Nature Boy Dillon and Bulldog Bob Brown, I think – brought their brawl out onto the concrete floor and then into the stands. Or maybe it was Killer Karl Krupp. Regardless, I was scared.

Of course, they weren’t going to beat up little kids in the stands, but I remember begging my father to leave while my equally terrified younger brother’s cup of pop got squeezed so hard in his hand due to stress that the top came off and the pop flew all over the place. He didn’t even notice until my father asked him what happened to his drink. My father made us stay, though, knowing we were perfectly safe high up in the stands. I’ll never forget that.

So, graduates, those are my first two bits of advice: don’t listen to people in authority when you know what they’re asking you to do is wrong. It could be as silly as keeping yourself cool in uncomfortably high heat and humidity, or something much worse. Over your working careers – paid or volunteer – you’ll likely be asked to do stuff you disagree with. That’s normal – and most of the time you may have to hold your nose and do it anyway. However, if it puts you or others in danger, it would be wrong to follow through. You know the difference between right and wrong. Trust your instincts on that.

Secondly, people with more experience than you can be valuable assets when faced with scary situations. It may not involve you being afraid that Killer Karl Krupp will climb into the stands of an arena to beat you up, but when someone with a lot of experience advises you to remain calm and that everything will be OK, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re sincerely trying to help you – and a pretty good chance they’re right.

I’ll always remember my father just staying put while my brother and I were panicking to high heaven to get the heck out of the arena, but I had to trust him. After all, he was my drive home and I was only about seven years old at the time. However, if he started running for the exit, I can assure you I would have, as well.

Most reputable, experienced mentors will give you sound advice based on experience. You can panic anyway and run, or you stick around and enjoy the show. Considering you’re going to be around for another 70 years or so, you might as well enjoy the show – and learn from it.

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