Saturday, January 09, 2010

Discomfort of University. What?

Today I attended the Student Leadership Conference, and for once, the opening commentaries were actually interesting. I was quite pleased about this since I was at school on a Saturday at 8:30 am, yuck. I have a suspicion that my interest is quite egocentric because they very closely related to what I wrote about yesterday. UBC President Stephen Toope gave an opening speech that highlighted the endless opportunities available to us during our university careers (That's something I have been hearing for the last 3 years). He said that this not time to settle into a comfortable place. Instead, we should explore the "discomfort" that university can offer us. Now to President Toope, discomfort is about going beyond the boundaries of what we accept, such as in cultural interactions and (of course) leadership. I however wanted to think about discomfort in relation challenging my mind, my abilities and my being.

In many ways, my university career has certainly done this for me. I cannot fathom there being another point in my life where I experience such drastic and amazing changes. There have been several courses that I thought would be particularly difficult, but I passed with flying colours. Visuals arts continuously challenges my technical skills as well as my ability to express myself, just as English constantly tests my critical thinking. I have also become a much healthier person, though I don't think UBC is solely to be credited for that one. These are all good things, but I'm unsure if they qualify for discomfort. When have I actually taken on something that is truly out of character?

Off the top of my head, my position at work this year has been discomforting. It's been challenging being in charge of people. I've been forced to stand up and be assertive. Something that is truly not a part of my persona. I also think that many of my courses have challenged my core beliefs and values to the point that I have re-evaluated them quite a bit. This has allowed me to develop as an independent young women, apart from familial and national culture. Perhaps this has surprised me the most. Knowing that such fundamental change can occur even after 18 years in one mind set. I think that that gives me hope that, as people, we are able to evolve, grow, learn and change, despite what mainstream culture and media has us believe. "We are set in our ways." I beg to differ. I would challenge you to be truly persistent in you pursuits and you just might surprise yourself. The reward of suffering(?) discomfort is well worth it, trust me on this one.

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