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Embracing the Struggle

Written by QCMHA Logistics Director Josh Borrell


When addressing the MIT convocation in 2023, Mark Rober said,


"Yeah, but my real life would just be so much better if my top five challenges disappeared. Would it? I'd like to point out that if Super Mario Brothers was just jumping over one pit and you rescued Princess Peach, no one would play it. Where's the risk and the reward? Where's the challenge? There's no ultimate feeling of satisfaction."


I think this short quote says a lot. Life's challenges rarely stir excitement in me, and like most individuals, I don't eagerly anticipate final exams, extended nights in the library, or dealing with sports-related injuries. Yet, in those moments when we challenge ourselves mentally or physically, we undergo transformation, we develop, and we become better people.


When I reflect on meaningful moments in the past few years, I think back to landing a summer internship, getting onto my first extracurricular club, or hitting a milestone in the gym. The meaning of those moments was not a result of the actual job or milestone reached but rather the work I put in to achieve them. 


During the summer of 2022, I was back home in Vancouver and actively working to recruit. Balancing work, interview prep, staying physically active, and maintaining relationships with friends proved to be challenging. To make matters worse, I got pneumonia during the summer and had to be hospitalized. 


I had to postpone my interviews by a month. 


In my mind, I felt as though I had squandered the entire summer, neglecting important time with friends and family, foregoing my hobbies like golf where my handicap skyrocketed. 


My final round of interviews with a firm occurred just before I started back at work in August. Throughout the workday, I anxiously checked my phone for missed calls. As I was waiting at my barber’s, I finally received a call from an unknown number, where I learned I had a job offer for my upcoming summer.


This call held significance not solely because it signified the culmination of my lengthy recruitment journey but primarily because of the arduous path leading to it. Without obstacles, sacrifices, or surprises along the way, the end result would not have been nearly as rewarding. This experience showed me that the feeling of reward does not come from the outcome alone, but the unpredictable journey you took to get there. 


If gaining admission to Queen's University merely required a polite request and a straightforward acceptance, it would lack the profound significance it currently holds. The acceptance email is only as meaningful as it is because of the effort invested to obtain it.


Reflecting positively on challenging times that worked out in my favour is easy. Yet, in the past four years, I have put considerable time into things I failed at. I was interested in exploring finance in my first year and decided to apply to a few commerce clubs. Navigating an industry I was unfamiliar with took a lot of effort. I remember long nights working on various stock pitches, reading breaking into wall street, and practicing for interviews. I had to sacrifice time I could have spent making new friends, completing coursework, and staying active to be ready for interviews. Despite the effort and time I put into applying for finance clubs, I didn’t land any. At that moment, I was deflated. I felt discouraged and thought I was not capable. Looking back, I wish I had responded to this outcome differently. Though I did not achieve the intended outcome, I should have reflected on the positives of the journey, like learning new concepts quickly, how to coffee chat, and how to manage my time better. I think it is equally important in times of failure to reflect on the challenges you faced and what you learned and developed instead of fixating on the result.


I look forward to the next big steps in my life, and I am sure I will encounter challenges at the most inconvenient times. Yet, it is essential to recognize that these challenges represent more than mere obstacles; they are opportunities to grow and forge your character. The true value of our achievements lies within the perseverance in the journey. So, as we all move forward throughout our time at Queen’s and beyond, let’s remember that meaning and significance occur not when we reach our goals or fail but in the resilience and persistence we used to get there. 

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