As our oldest brothers pack in and the hallways thin, we all at once begin to loathe the time we have left at UCC and cherish every second of it. The College – and its boys – are nothing short of paradoxical. We are “global thinkers” – who tend to become ensnared by the suffocating, insular, North Toronto social sphere. Administration deems us sustainability leaders, with boxed water not twenty feet from the nearest fountain. I could write chapters in the UCC almanac about these contradictions, but as summer springs, it’s the first one that I find all around me. As sleeves become scarcer and time wears on, our confliction sets in.
Naturally, as you come to understand the many faces of this system, you will like some of them more than others. But as we march through the shadow of the valley of exams, the contrast between these faces becomes its most stark. Whether it is because you we notice their intricacies, having been staring at them for ten months, or the hyper intense environment has emotionally exhausted us, or you – like so many – have experienced personal growth that has changed your perspective, it is this final march when we begin to truly analyse the results of this little experiment we have called a school year.
This stretch of the school year is what makes UCC great. It’s in our three-peats, our speaker awards, and Kal Shaw’s saxophone. This is a direct result of our ability to be critical of our home and love it at the same time. It is this stretch of school year – when the yearned after days of summer are within a stone’s throw, we are bidding farewell to our close friends, and still the most difficult work lies ahead – when we are able to most clearly see the good, the bad, and the ugly at UCC. When we realize that this school, despite it’s wonderful PR, is fallible. From the ground up, there are improvements to be made each fall.
Save the night before CAS deadlines, this is when UCC students reflect the most. We question where we stood in September, where we stand now, and how we are going to make it better next year. It is also the time when we reflect on time – how much of it has passed, how little we have left, but also how treacherous the next little bit of it will be. We begin to realize that, one day, we will be in the shoes of our now long-gone older brothers, experiencing this yearly ritual from an old boy’s perspective. We wonder what they will write about us when we are gone. It’s what forces us to consider building our legacy, changing the things we don’t like, preserving the things we do, and ringing things in anew. This is the first step in an immeasurably important process.
For some, it means working hard in the gym to put on ten extra pounds for football season. For others, it means reading a few books to expand the old word bank. For a few, it means making questionable-at-best decisions about the timing of assemblies for the next year. For all, it means a chance to assess how you can approach your best self, and thinking about that step. And that’s who we are: a collection of aspiring best selves that makes the best whole.