The Age of Respect

I am fortunate to have some truly incredible people in my life. When I met my mentor, I had no idea how important or influential of a person he was. However, I think if I had, I wouldn’t have dared to ask for his help. After I finished the project I needed to complete for graduation, I lost contact with him for a little while. He would sometimes tag me in things he thought relevant to my interests, but it would be months before we had an actual conversation again.

I reached out to him recently. Summer is approaching rapidly, and I had decided to give this writing thing a go, but I realized I would need something to write about. I wanted some work that would help me build up my portfolio, so I messaged him. I asked if he had any projects I could work on or people he could connect me with and we arranged for a phone call the following weekend.

He offered me several opportunities to work, all of which were incredibly interesting and inventive. I was immediately taken aback by the complexity of the projects. He seemed to genuinely want my help with programs that appeared far beyond my comprehension (they’re not, but it felt like they were.) Perhaps I had read the conversation wrong, but I couldn’t help but be happy with the level of trust he still had in me. As I said earlier, we had not spoken in a substantial amount of time, so this level of respect felt unwarranted. After the call was over, I had some exciting future work and a new question – what is it that makes me wonder if I am deserving of respect?

I think there are many reasons I may feel as though I am not as deserving of respect as others, but the primary cause is my age. Twelve years of public education has given me this idea that I am too young, too naive, too inexperienced to receive any kind of genuine esteem. I see why so many young people are afraid to initiate conversations, to speak highly of themselves, and to seek out opportunities.

The quote in the header of my blog, “If you never ask, the answer will always be no,” is something I believe in but have only started living by recently. At the time, the act of messaging my mentor was a source of anxiety. I am barely beginning to understand how valuable my skills are, but disregarding the idea that I don’t deserve or have respect is helping.





Decisions and Doubt

I’ve never been a big fan of introductory posts, I feel as though they just rephrase the “about me” page that we bloggers put so much time into. Instead, I thought I would invite you to observe my life at a turning point.

In nineteen days, I will graduate from high school. I’ve spent the last year applying to colleges, writing scholarship essays, and working day and night to convince people I’ve never met that I’m good enough to attend whatever program they work for. It has been an exhausting effort.

I got into my dream school, but I had a weird acceptance experience. When I applied to McGill, I applied two programs — arts and commerce. My first choice was the Faculty of Arts, so I wasn’t super upset when I checked my status in December and saw I was rejected from commerce. When I received my admissions email, it started with “we regret to inform you…” and I immediately broke down. I had worked so hard to exceed McGill’s straightforward expectations, I thought I was practically a shoe-in. I didn’t read the rest of the email, I just let myself be upset for the day.

When I finally worked up the courage to go through the letter, I felt a sinking sense of stupidity. Turns out the email was a formal rejection from the commerce program. It did reference my admission to the Faculty of Arts, but only briefly in the last paragraph. Right away, something felt off.

I don’t think the person that wrote the email had any intention of being cruel, but it still felt kind of mean. McGill was known for being clear-cut, so I tried to pass it off as just another way of them being direct. But why would they start the email with rejection and barely mention my acceptance? It just seemed odd. I had begun to question if McGill even wanted me there. I realized that every time I had shown interest, contacted them, or applied for programs within the university, I had been treated as a nuisance.

Despite these doubts, I am going to McGill. I put down a hefty deposit so you can catch me in Montreal this August. However, I still question whether or not I’ve made the right decisions, and so do some people around me. I often wonder if I want to spend another four years in an academic environment and even find myself trying to reduce the amount of time I’d spend in university. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said: “if I get X amount of 4’s on my AP exams, I can graduate early!”

Yet, I want to have the courage of my convictions and give McGill a chance. This university, this city, this chance has been my dream. The idea of McGill held me up through tough times and motivated me to improve my weaker areas of study. I have to try, I owe it to the young girl who yearned for Montreal like nothing else for the last year and a half.

I think it’s fairly reasonable to have doubts, especially when you make a big decision for the first time. My shortage of confidence was not for lack of trying, but it turns out that it’s difficult to convince yourself of something you know may not be truthful. For now, I view McGill as an essential stepping stone towards a much higher goal.