Creating your own definition of success

STU’s graduation dinner last Friday night ended the first day of formal good-byes to the class of 2014. In a packed house at the Forest Hill Conference Centre the almost alumni gathered, most dressed a notch or two above the required “business attire” — testimony to the air of celebration we all felt.

In the crowd, the 16 or so graduates from STU’s journalism program looked strangely unfamiliar in their grown up clothes and perfectly coiffed, and I realized how much they all changed in the few short years we shared a classroom.

My own experience has probably been a lot less transforming. After all, I arrived already equipped with many of the lessons my fellow students were just on the path to learning: time management, priority setting and positive (or in some cases not so positive) stress-busting strategies.

But on Friday night I could see and feel their excitement, even though just under the surface a touch of ambivalence lurked, and I was surprised at the maternal emotions I felt for them.

I found myself mentally predicting their futures based solely, and completely irrationally, on my limited knowledge of their personalities and characteristics — although I know I am right in at least one instance.

I thought about him during the presentation of awards to students deemed by a committee of faculty to be the most deserving of recognition for their accomplishments, academically and otherwise, during their time at STU.

Well earned no doubt, but a few semesters ago I recall making an off-hand remark about a particular classmate who I thought was and for the most part still is on nobody’s radar as a candidate for being the most successful of our graduating class. Already, quietly and without fanfare as usual, he is way ahead of the rest of us in his chosen niche, one that is growing and extremely lucrative in our evolving and tech heavy world.

But the fact is that most, including him, are just at the cusp of real adulthood, their lives at this point almost a blank slate. Some are bound to surprise, but all will ultimately develop their own definition of the term “success,” and many will come to wonder whether or not that idea has anything at all to do with who gets what job or who else makes how much money.

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