It’s crazy when I think about it. This time of year, students will be walking across the stage – collecting their diplomas. Two June’s ago, this was me (though it feels like it has been a lot longer). I felt like I graduated not two days ago – and everything since has been dream like. I realize now when I was coming into the workforce, I was so naive. I could have sworn I’d known everything there is to know, and I had a sense of fearlessness; the world was at my fingertips.
The thing about being sold a dream from your college professors and parents is that it’s only that, a dream – it’s up to you to turn it into reality. For some people, they conquer after college or university. Their success is always up and to the right faster than anyone else. Others, linger. They can’t find a job in their field so they become a forever student – a piggy bank for the education system (I might add, they’re usually better off in the long run). Then there’s the people in the middle. People like me. People who follow their dreams to an extent and in moderation, 9-5 and two weeks paid holidays for the rest of their adult lives. I mean, it’s not a terrible life to live – though it’s easy to get stuck in.
The past two years feel like an eternity. I’ve been through a lot, broken down some barriers (politely) and at the end of the day, surfaced in a much better place. Career-life, while sometimes mundane, makes you mature very quickly (certainly depending on the workplace you inhabit) and it really brings your head out of the clouds. So many great people I’ve encountered are truly the reason for my success. I’m not as hostile or know-it-all as I used to be, and I like to think I’ve developed some sense of optimism and professionalism.
All that being said, it wasn’t easy by any means. You come out of the top of your class to realize you are truly at the bottom of the food-chain. It’s painful to the ego, really. You expect your progress to be swift and quick, and it ends up being slow and tortuous. Last year was a really hard year for me. I had my successes, sure, but it usually came at the pain of my ego or the cost of my sanity. I’ve had so many mentors and leaders walk into my life, only to have to leave again. Looking at it objectively, I really am quite lucky. I’ve had numerous amazing leaders in the last 5 years really. From my amazing professors at Algonquin College, to the bosses I’ve had here at Corel, to random people who have given me some time out of their busy lives – a lot of people don’t get that. I had an amazing woman enter my professional life, only to be taken too soon by cancer. But I have the voices of all these people supporting me in my head (by some standards, that makes me psychotic – I tend to agree).
I can’t say what’s going to happen over the next 2, 5, 10 years of my life – but I hope it’s just as interesting. Good luck to the batch of students walking the stage this month – I wish you nothing but the best.