Get Your Laugh On (Finding Place and Purpose at U of T)

In my first year, I went with a guy from residence and joined a sketch comedy troupe. I was really nervous and I suspect he was as well, though he never showed it. He was from Waterloo and performed on Improv teams and was starting to do standup comedy at Einstein’s open-mic.

Anyway, we auditioned and we were cast, and then something changed. We were no longer just students. We became members of The Bob.



The Bob is Canada’s longest running sketch comedy revue, hosted by Victoria College. There have been some pretty famous people in The Bob, over the years, even including Margaret Atwood. Any student, from any college, can audition, and if comedy or theatre or writing is your passion, I’d highly recommend it.

It was during a casual, September 2009 stroll with my dad, actually, that I happened to find a poster calling for auditions. I ripped the poster right off the wall, fearing I’d forget all the details otherwise. When I got back to residence I walked past my room and knocked on a door four rooms down from mine. The student who answered had shaggy brown-blonde hair and a cheeky, curious quality in his eye that gave me the idea to speak with a phony British accent.

“Good afternoon,” I said.

“Yes, hullo, and how may I help you?”

“I was wondering if perchance you possessed a fondness for performing comedy.”

“Yes, I may have such a fondness. What of it?”

I showed him the poster. His eyes scanned it from top to bottom. Then he looked up at me.

“Tonight’s the last call for auditions,” he said.

“It is,” and I could feel a flutter in the chest.

He looked me straight dead in the face and said, “Let’s do it!

We barely knew each other that first night. But at the audition something clicked and it seemed we’d been joking around together for a long time. Maybe it was a shared comedic sense, or maybe it was that we had both eaten the same meal-plan lasagna for dinner, but I like to think it was the realization that we had both just made our first real friend at university.



After that we were a regular duo. We wrote sketches together, went to shows and open-mics together, met different people, we were even the MC’s for the New College Mosaic. It was a much needed, and much appreciated, support-system for first year, though it never exactly seemed that way.

It was merely being a part of something. We were Bob’ers. We were friends. The name or size of the association was irrelevant, as long as it gave us a sense of place and purpose. U of T is really big, it offers a lot of options, finding something that speaks to you is, well, priceless.



I know it was my friend’s encouragement and enthusiasm that allowed me to audition for The Bob in the first place. And I’m much indebted because it led to a crazy-fun comedy ride throughout my second and third years. Not to mention a really great friendship.

Now, the time has come for The Bob to grace the stage again. The show is 7:30pm November 14, 15, and 16 at the Isabel Bader Theatre at Victoria College. I’ll be watching from the front row this year. But it gives me great pleasure that my friend, who inspired me to act, to be bold (and silly), is one of this year’s co-directors. Congrats, man!


‘Til next time, U of T, stay diamond!



Advice on Advisors

I don’t have any mentors. I’m not sure who, exactly, I should go to for advice – particularly non-judgmental, non-condescending advice about school and my future career. I’ll be completely honest with you all; I’m almost halfway through my university career, I’m confused, and I need to suck up my fear and my pride and seek guidance from people who know more than I do.

Maybe that’s because the advice you give yourself sucks. Look for it elsewhere sometimes, will you? (Source:

I decided to use this post as a learning opportunity. I asked 20 of my friends and colleagues who are enrolled in the Faculty of Arts & Science who they go to for advice about school and careers, and who their biggest inspirations are. I was interested in what they looked for in mentors – how they perceive them, the kinds of relationships they have with them, and what they learn from them.

The answers that I received were all very different, but there were a few recurring themes in who my friends look up to and who they go to for mentorship. These are the ones that stood out to me the most:

Real-life Experience
Every single person I asked seeks advice and inspiration from people who have been there, done that – older siblings and friends who are fresh out of school, parents in a similar field to what they hope to get into, seasoned professionals who have experience giving school and career advice, and high-profile individuals who are successful in their particular fields. Learning from the trajectory of others who are where you would like to be is invaluable, but we don’t have to literally follow in their footsteps. One student that I interviewed reminded me of something that I think we all need to keep in mind, especially when we get discouraged – “everyone’s path is different”.

They know me and have my best interests at heart:
Most of the students I asked sought mentorship from their parents, friends, siblings, cousins, and other individuals that they maintained close relationships with. I was given reasons like “she works hard to provide me with experiences she didn’t have”, “they are people I trust and want the best for me”, and “she’s always done her best to guide me”. I think this is why many of the sources that I seek advice from are lacking; yes, they are experienced and successful, but they are more interested in regurgitating information than having conversations, and I would not go to them with my real fears and insecurities.

Thank you for this, Lauren Conrad. (Source:

Mentorship doesn’t end with the oft-mentioned school and careers. I think it’s important to open up to your loved ones, and learn from the world around you, in all areas of life. I’ll admit that for me, it’s difficult sometimes – I get so lost in my own head that I forget to look outwards. I forget that great mentorship doesn’t always begin with “Well, I’ve got some advice for you…”, and sometimes I just have to listen, learn, and interpret things for myself. Hopefully, that’s an obstacle that I can learn (or be mentored) to overcome.

Love, Hawa

Not Your Typical Dodgeball

Reflecting back on my school years before university, I realize that I had a love/hate relationship with physical education class. I loved it during my elementary years because gym class often meant little more than playfully hiding under a gigantic rainbow parachute. But with high school, came the beep test, where students would have to do a certain number of laps and drills in a short amount of time… in a nutshell, it is probably the worst creation by the kinesiology gods. But the “fun” sport that I grew to love/hate most was dodgeball. It was scary and aggressive, but also thrilling and rewarding—especially for the winners!

Last week while doing my usual search for local Facebook events, I found an event link posted on the MoveU Facebook page that was UTSC PACE-sponsored. UTSC PACE stands for Physical Activity Coaches & Educators. I hung out on the UTSC PACE Facebook page to learn more about the event. When I read the word “dodgeball,” I thought to myself, “hmm, that sounds interesting.” But then, after reading more, I found out that was not just any dodgeball, it was trampoline dodgeball. Even though I have never been to the UTSC campus before, I didn’t let my lack of tri-campus knowledge hold me back. I was determined to jump on those freaking trampolines. So off I went!

What I loved off the bat was that there was free transportation to the Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park from the UTSC campus. The UTSC PACE crew also gave us free refreshments (“free” is one word that will never cease to amaze me). Once we arrived at the park, the realization that I didn’t know anyone coming into this event hit me. And I think the crew at UTSC PACE predicted that there were going to be a lot of students like me attending this event, which was why the mixed the group of over 50 plus students around and separated us into teams of virtual strangers. From that moment on, I was no longer “the loner kid who didn’t know anyone.” I was delegated to the blue team and we all had to find a way to make our team work while getting to know one another.

If only human sized pop bottles were such a thing. VIA GIFBIN.COM

The first few tries on trampoline dodgeball were overwhelming. Each zone was split in half with six trampoline pods on each side (one for each player on the team), along with side trampolines on the wall. Although it sounds easy, it was actually quite difficult at first. The trampolines were so bouncy that I had to find a way to become more agile to allow myself to turn around and aim my ball at a target. Nonetheless, I still had fun just jumping around and pretending that I was levitating (because that’s a childhood dream of mine). And I wasn’t alone, because while my team spent time getting the hang of playing dodgeball on trampolines, we kind of wiped out the first few times. However, we found a way to work the system midway through. Once a new game would start, we would alternate in each pod in zigzags while switching around. When one of us got out first, no one groaned at them for leaving early. Instead, we worked hard to catch a ball so that we could bring that member back in the zone. And our technique worked. We won our last game!

Lo and behold, the Skyzone Centre. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Lo and behold, the Skyzone Centre. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Afterwards, we were given the option to join around different mixed teams for more games, or to explore around. I decided to play trampoline basketball, and lived my dream of doing a slam dunk after five failed tries (yes, even with the assistance of trampolines). I also jumped into a foam pit because, hey, what’s a zone full of trampolines without any foam pits? It was hilarious to watch people jump in, get stuck, and champion their way out.

Yours truly, stuck in a foam pit. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Yours truly, stuck in a foam pit. VIA ISABEL GANA, UTSC PACE

Even though I can be shy at times, I loved meeting fellow students beyond the St. George campus. I felt more connected to my university as well. It was refreshing to know that a lot of people agree that jumping on trampolines is fun, and that it’s a form of exercise for the kid in us. Also, aside from realizing a love for trampoline-related events, I’m now interested in tri-campus events. So I’m excited to see what else will come up this school year!

And yes, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, I probably have reached a new record in writing the word “trampoline” the most times in a student life blog post.


A Conversation with a Friend about Life

Last week I met a friend for coffee. It was the end of summer that I saw him last — O how that winged tyrant flies! — and it was lucky because he’s graduated and he’s very busy these days. It was nice to see him, and we had a really good conversation.

We said the usual how are you doing, what’s new? And then my friend said, “I’ve applied for an internship with the Canadian Embassy.”

“That’s great,” I said. “Did you get it?”

“I haven’t heard yet. They said they’d contact me within two weeks for an interview.”

“I’m sure you’ll get it.”

“But what if I don’t?” he said. “There are a lot of people applying for it.”

“Do you think you will get it?”

“Well, I hope so.”

“What did the application require?”

“Write an essay and submit a cover letter and my transcripts.”

“Did you do all that?”


“Was your essay good? Did your cover letter say all that you wanted it to?”

“As much as it could.”

“And your grades are fine, right?”

“They’re okay. Yeah, they’re good.”

“So you did everything that you had to do, right?”


“Okay, then what’s the worry?”

Because!” he said. “Everyone will have done all that stuff, and there are like two positions.”

“But you did all that stuff,” I said.

“Yeah, I told you.”

“Okay,” and I went and refilled my coffee.

When I returned, my friend said. “What? So I’m just supposed to forget about it and leave it up to the Gods?”

I laughed. “Essentially.”

“But what if I don’t get it?”

“That’s out of our control at this point.”

“But that sucks,” he said.

I agreed. “But unfortunately, it’s the truth.”

Rather than allow this revelation to dampen our spirits, we started talking about the idea of diligence and determination, and asked the question: Do these qualities actually pay off in the end?

It’s something my friend is experiencing, and many of us, too, as we reach the end of our career at U of T. Will all of my hard work lead to a satisfying career? The conclusion my friend and I settled on (I’m sure we could have conversed longer and more inquisitively) is that, at some point along the road, the decision of whether we become doctors, lawyers, professors, authors, sports-stars, or even astronauts, will be out of our control. And what is most important is that we pursue our goals up to that point.

My friend did all that he could for his application. I’ve known him since first year, and it was never his plan to work at the Canadian Embassy. But once the opportunity arose, he applied himself to the utmost of his ability, rallying the full breadth of his university experience and education, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

He did everything he could, and then surrendered to Chance. It’s funny that we recognize success only when its says, “You passed!” or “You’re hired!” or “Welcome aboard!” We fail to acknowledge that every day you go to class, by your own will, out of desire, or a sense of responsibility, is a triumph of our university education. Every time you commit yourself to learning, regardless of grades, is a success of your character and your development as a human being.

It sucks that four years at university doesn’t secure us a dream job. But being a university student means that we have the unparalleled opportunity to prepare and apply ourselves with every ounce of interest, intelligence, honesty, and strength that we possess to gain that desired career, before we throw our lives back into the hands of Chance.

My friend got an interview. I’m looking forward to seeing him again. Maybe we’ll have another great conversation.


‘Til then, stay diamond, U of T!

- Stephen.

Halloween: Celebrating Youth! . . . And Anxiety?

I recently read a BuzzFeed post that pointed out some of the apparent highlights of Halloween at university. Top of the list was looking sexy, shots, shots, shots, and making awesome group costumes. Now, I bet most of us can probably plead guilty to at least one of these. But we should also stop and ask ourselves why?

I absolutely love Halloween!

Because of these three ladies . . .



And for every replay of this . . .



And, do I really have to explain?



I love the smell of Halloween from the leaves on the street to the brisk night air like an invitation to breathe. Most of all I love Halloween costumes. The candy is good, too.

It used to be that all I cared about was my costume. I changed my mind every other week: Batman, Dracula, Batman, Dracula, a Mummy, a Zombie, Batman, wait I’ve got it—Dracula!

Then something changed. It became important to have a really good costume. A well-done, clever costume. An aspect of social competition had been introduced. It was no longer solely about me and my costume. It was about how my costume might impact them. Some of my friends started saying, “Halloween is lame!” It had become a social challenge that they refused to contest.

I think Halloween is a celebration of youth. A night for children to run around. A night for kids to eat candy. A night for teenagers and adults to put away their busy thoughts, and put on a costume. It’s a night to dress up like Miley Cyrus or Rob Ford or the cast of Orange is the New Black, if you want. It’s a night to act less serious and have a laugh.

But why do many university students say, “No, I’m not dressing up. I don’t like Halloween very much.” Is it really just for kids? Is putting on a costume so far below the seriousness of academia? Or is it a social issue that leads to anxiety?

I think the notion of celebrating youthfulness is unexpectedly stressful. As a university student, it’s like being asked to celebrate being you. It sounds nice, but it requires that you step out into a suddenly competitive social spotlight.

Some of us stay far away from this spotlight, others want to look sexy, or think they have to drink, or rely on the close company of a friend group. Either way, I think the anxiety drives us to miss the deeper importance of celebrating youth, which is to relax and have fun.

Last year, a group of friends and I dressed up like the characters from Clue. It was a lot of fun. Looking back I see how social anxieties were at play. They always are.Clue

This year we are being the villains from Batman. I have been working hard on my costume, and it feels almost as genuine as when I was a kid. I really do love Halloween. But I am not worry free, and I doubt I ever will be. But at least I can stop, take a deep breath of crisp autumn air, and think about why.

Happy Halloween, U of T,halloween



Health and Wellness . . . Yes Please! (Attack of the Appendix)

So this happened, and now I can laugh about it. (#laughUofT) It started with a stomach-ache on Thanksgiving Monday. I must have eaten too much mashed-potatoes and apple-crisp. But the pain lasted overnight, concentrating on the lower right side of my abdomen, and by Tuesday afternoon it was even worse.

I just knew it—Appendicitis, my only weakness!

appendix doodle


After some thought, I decided to go see a doctor. The U of T Health Clinic is down at 214 College Street, and they prefer scheduled appointments. It was too far for me to walk (all hunched over and groaning), so I went to an Ontario Clinic on Bloor Street.

The thing about Walk-in-Clinics: Expect to wait. Bring a book, a magazine—your notes on how to solve world hunger—because it’s going to take a while.

Of course, I brought nothing. So for nearly two hours I did nothing by writhe in gut-wrenching agony (No, I’m just being dramatic). But seriously, it was gut-wrenching agony!

Oh, and don’t forget your Health Card.

At last I saw the doctor. She asked does this hurt and I said yes. Then she asked does THIS hurt and I said YES! So she wrote me an ultrasound referral for the hospital and sent me on my way.

It was twelve noon. I had tutorial at two o’clock. But Health and Wellness has to be #1!



So I went to Toronto Western Hospital. Before I could be treated, I had to get a University Health Network card, which required:

>  Health Card Number

> Driver’s licence or official I.D.

> Name of Family Doctor

> Medical Insurance plan

I had forgotten the name of my family doctor, so I had to call my mom. Calling your parents (especially my mom) from the hospital is a very delicate task. Do not, as I did, begin, “Mom, I’m at the hospital.” ‘Cause parents go like this:



With my blue UHN card, I went up to radiology for an ultrasound. Wrongo! Ultrasounds are customarily booked six weeks in advance. The nurse sent me down to the Emergency Ward. And, once again, I played the waiting game.



I was brought into Emerg a little after five o’clock. My girlfriend arrived, which made everything better, and eventually I had an ultrasound (skip to 2:10). Then the doctor came back with the results. I had Appendicitis. There were three options:

> Do nothing.

> Take antibiotics.

> Have surgery

All of a sudden I had to make a decision. I had been following the advice and recommendations of professionals all day, but now they fell silent. The doctor was waiting for me to tell him what to do.

I chose surgery.

Now I feel much better. I have three small scars, but the pain is gone. It’s strange. Having to decide whether I needed surgery has become the most striking aspect of the whole experience. It was like I had graduated.

I had to take responsibility for my own life! (Oh gosh, Steve, really?) Yes!

As a student, I find it easy to take my actions for granted, to assume everything will work out fine in the end. But being a student is not unlike having surgery. Both are choices. Both have risks and consequences. And although you may feel rushed into them, both have the final purpose of helping you. Tough decisions are with us at every turn. It’s our job to make them responsibly. I think I’ll remember that.


‘Til we meet again, U of T,

Photo Credit: Leah-Jade Emmerson

Photo Credit: Leah-Jade Emmerson

Stay diamond!


Everybody Likes a Gathering!

How goes it everybody?

Hopefully everyone out in U of T land are killing their midterms and papers this week. Speaking of midterms… what’s with that term “midterm” anyways? I think we need to strongly consider changing it to “First Tests” or something, I mean Midterm assumes that you are already midway through the semester, and last I checked we were just 5 weeks in. Also how can one have two midterms? Are you attempting to persuade me into believing that there can be two middles of the semester? have you lost your minds completely? Stop speeding up on me University, time is already going too fast and I still have no idea what I’m going to do post-Grad!

Sums it up nicely

Sums it up nicely

Alright so now that we have the rant portion of the post already covered and out of the way let’s move onto something more productive shall we?

Even though we are all swamped this month with paper’s and tests, it’s nice to get your head out of the library/classroom and check out an event or two on campus. This month First Nations House has a major writing event being held on the 24-25th appropriately titled “Indigenous Writers Gathering”. The purpose of the event is to, of course, promote indigenous writing, storytelling, and rhetoric but it also includes events featuring authors who focus on stronger fiction, non-fiction and creative writing skills in a more broad sense. Therefore the programming is not geared specifically and only towards those of Aboriginal ancestry. It’s not just a great opportunity to get out and meet some professors and award winning writers but also an opportunity to go to an event which you can write about for an assignment/paper. Multiple times, in a variety of my courses, I have been required to attend and then report on an event around campus.  If you are in a similar situation than this is definitely the event for you.


The Indigenous Writer’s Gathering also has a lot of momentum from it’s past years success, if you have a second, check out this short review of last year’s programming. I hope to see some of you there :)

Well, stay in there everybody.  This wave of “first” tests and papers will be long gone in just a few short weeks.




What Comes After Pain?

Forgiveness Project 1

The F Word: The Forgiveness Project Exhibition in Hart House’s main hall.

In the peaceful main hallway at Hart House, there hangs a series of panels that depict murderers, mothers, former gang members and an archbishop. This seemingly eclectic collection of photos and stories seeks to “explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can be used to impact positively on people’s lives.” As part of the Wounds into Wisdom series of tri-campus events this year, The F Word: The Forgiveness Project Exhibition highlights exceptional stories of what comes after pain.

There were many different, including some very surprising, reactions to the idea of what comes after pain and whether forgiveness, or otherwise, was an appropriate response. One perpetrator felt asking for forgiveness added “insult to injury” to the relatives and family member. Robi Damelin, whose son was killed while serving in the Israeli army, urged the army not to take revenge in the name of her son upon hearing the news of his death.

Mariane Pearl whose husband, the American journalist Daniel Pearl, was “murdered by a militant Islamic fundamentalist group” said that she had no reason to forgive her husband’s killer, that forgiveness was “too lame an answer for extreme situations”. She instead has chosen “to win some sort of victory over the people who have hurt [her]” by continuing to live and value life.

Conversely, Azim Khamisa found what was called for was forgiveness, and then some. Azim offered a job to his son’s murderer at the foundation Azim had set up in his son’s name after he realized that “there were victims at both ends of the gun.”

Walking through the exhibit, I found it to be more moving that I thought it would be. After all, these sorts of conflicts are things I have studied for the last four years as part of my Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies program. But many of these stories and reactions to the conflicts were deeply personal and certainly beyond what I had expected to find while wandering the halls on campus.

Stories like the ones in the exhibit reminded me of a great quote from journalist Nahlah Ayed in her book, A Thousand Farewells:

“People are not quotes or clips, used to illustrate stories about war and conflict. People are the story, always.”

Particularly when we’re immersed in theoretical academia, this sentiment can be an easy thing to forget.

Forgiveness, on a day-to-day basis, can also be easily forgotten. One of favourite stories of everyday forgiveness comes from a friend who saw her wallet being stolen out of her bag while she was giving a presentation in class. Instead of calling the thief out (as I likely would have done), Toronto-based poet and artist Paloma wrote a poem called “to the man who stole my wallet”, part of which is excerpted below.

i am not so angry

as you expect

me to be.


those sixty-one dollars,

i am happy to

give you.


please buy yourself something

that makes you happy

and something that makes

you full.


the quarter with the triangle of turquoise

I was keeping,

for my sister who collects coins.


maybe your sister

collects coins.

The ability to see the person within the perpetrator is what humbles me both in this poem and in The F Word exhibit. It is something for us all to keep in mind as we navigate what comes after pain.



The Forgiveness Project was founded by journalist Marina Cantacuzino, with photos taken by Brian Moody. The University of Toronto version is a joint collaboration between Hart House, the Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office, Hillel of Toronto (U of T), Ask Big Questions and the Multi-Faith Centre. Exhibits can be seen from Sept. 20th – Oct. 16th at Hart House (main hall) with additional panels at Hillel of Toronto, the Multi-Faith Centre, First Nations House and in the lobby of 215 Huron St. Further information for the exhibit, along with info for the related movie screenings and conflict resolution workshops may be found here.

Essay Writing Dos and Don’ts

Warning: Now entering Essay Alley, a two-month span of the academic year known for an increase in essay-related stress, anxiety, and all out no-good-not-niceness. Luckily, the unofficial U of T Essay Writing Dos and Don’ts is here to help. (Have essay advice? Share it #UofTessaytips).

In my second year I took the Innis College course, Writing English Essays. An intermediate, hands-on course, I learned many skills and techniques of persuasive writing. Most useful, however, was the T.A.’s suggestion that we all read The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (the author of Charlotte’s Web). It’s a little guidebook to clear, concise, stylistic writing, and I would highly recommend it!

Now! The unofficial U of T Essay Writing Dos and Donts:

Do: Give it time.

I have written essays the night before they were due. And I’ve written essays weeks in advance. Which do you think resulted in a better essay? Allowing myself time to reconsider and re-contemplate my arguments has always proven beneficial. An essay is a presentation of our thinking in words, and our thinking is constantly changing and developing. We need time to get it clear.

Don’t: Summarize or list facts.

Sometimes a summary of events may feel necessary to situate your arguments. I always ask my T.A. or professor about this. Most say that summaries are a boring, unneeded waste of words. Listing facts may also seem beneficial because it fills space. But a list of facts is not a developed argument. To write a good essay we must try to show our thinking.

Do: Engage arguments.

This is easier than it sounds. Just about every subject has previously established arguments made by scholars and students in books, papers, and journals. Find these. Read them. Pick two or three that are pertinent to your thesis and discuss them. Agree or disagree. Explain why you think so-and-so’s point is invalid, and then argue for your own ideas!

Don’t: Plagiarize.

Obvious! But also very serious. For academic, argumentative, critical writing there is no greater offence. Just imagine doing it in person: Some guy next to you says something brilliant, and when it’s your turn to speak you simply copy what he said, but you claim it’s your own idea. I don’t think so.

Do: Analyze the particular.

What do I mean? Find something small and work outwards. When I write an essay on a novel, I try to focus and build my arguments from particular passages that extend to broader themes within the book. For a history paper, I would centre my analysis on a particular event, person, or act, and draw outwards. Small is big. The particular argument informs the general assumption. Try it!

Don’t: Bribe your professor or T.A.

It just doesn’t work. Money, chocolate, theatre-tickets, a bottle of 50-year-old scotch—it’s all been tried. Unfortunately, the most effective gesture to receive that longed for A+ is a well-written essay.

Do: Pick an exciting title.

A professor of a friend of mine said that until students become famous, our best form of marketing is an exciting essay title. Wise words. I always check with my professors about title etiquette. Some are traditionalists.

Don’t: Lose sleep.

Handing in a late paper is not the end of the world. Nor is getting a B, or a C, or even a D. Sometimes we just get stumped and can’t think anymore. During third year, Essay Alley hit me hard and I had to ask my professor for an extension. If it’s necessary, DO IT. But ask earlier than later.

Do: Try to enjoy it.

When I’m stumped and scattered, I close my books and get out. I go see a friend. I talk about my stupid essay! And it helps. An essay is best when it’s written positively, when the mood is right.

 So remember: we’re students, we’re trying, and we’re lucky to be here.



‘Til next time, U of T, stay diamond!


Sweating: Another Thing You Can Do With Friends

Goals are easy to make, and easy to break. So I sometimes slump into the habit of multitasking in order to cram everything in my schedule. Every time I multi-task, I end up doing everything in a mediocre way. Yet, sometimes killing two birds with one stone isn’t such a bad idea. What about going to an exercise class with a friend? I’m able to socialize while getting one step closer to achieving my goal to get active. What if that friend is actually the teacher?   Well, it turns out that a dear friend of mine is starting out as a cycle fit instructor. Given that I’m also a newbie, can anyone say quid pro quo?

Last week, I bumped into a friend of mine, Megan. Since we’ve both gone off to our separate areas of study it’s been hard to find time to hang out with her. In absolute shortened form, this was how our catching up went:

Me: “I’m the MoveU writer for the Life@UofT blog this year.”
Megan: “I’m instructing a spinning class at the AC this year. It’s twice a week, and a drop-in.”
Both of us: “Wow, I’m proud of you!”

And for some reason, nothing else but a synthesis formed in both of our minds:

Queue in the screaming of joy moment you have with friends. — VIA HOLYGRAILOFGIFS.TUMBLR.COM

Queue in the screaming of joy moment you have with friends. — VIA HOLYGRAILOFGIFS.TUMBLR.COM

And the deal was done. I promised her that I would go to her class that week, and so I did. That meant getting over my fear of going to the Athletic Centre. I’ve only gone there once so far during my two years at U of T. I was honestly nervous about going in, and had my doubts. Since I was going into a drop-in class for the first time in a while, I was worried about whether I would be able to keep up with the rest of the class. Also, I would have to take the Queens Park and Hart House crossing path, where the zombie line of cold-ridden students still march to class (see last week’s post to get what I’m talking about).

But alas, the crazy things you do for friendship. So I did what any other (semi-) normal university student would do: blasted “Eye of The Tiger” in my iPod, and headed on out to the good ol’ AC.  I entered the Pedal Zone to see her perched on the bike seat, poised to lead class, like she’d been doing it forever.

Row by row, I thought it was daunting. - VIA MRSTASHAB.TUMBLR.COM

Row by row, I thought it was daunting. – VIA MRSTASHAB.TUMBLR.COM

Since I tried spinning classes two summers ago, I wasn’t  nervous about trying something new, but I was apprehensive being vulnerable. It was my first exercise class in a few months, so I had to break out of the mould of being self-conscious. As I slid my feet into the pedals and strapped them up, I felt the butterflies in my stomach. I knew that I was going to be the first one to break the sweat in class.

Why can't I just sweat and own it? -VIA REACTTIONGIFS.COM

Why can’t I just sweat and own it? -VIA REACTTIONGIFS.COM

Yet, the thing is, vulnerability is also empowering. Every time I jump into something, I end up becoming more confident because I allowed myself to take that risk. When the class began, I decided to hit the pedal and turn up the resistance metre. Since I’ve only just been getting back to the groove of being physically active, the first set of cycling hills were a little too much for me. But what I like about spinning is that you get to go on your own pace, and if you slow down, it won’t be as noticeable because you control the settings on your own bike. You’re not holding anyone back, and you’re not pushing yourself beyond your limits. So by the fifth cycle up the “hill,” I didn’t care anymore. I felt like I was alone, and competing with myself for as long as I could take it.

And yes, I was the first one to break the sweat. But I owned it. As our class picked up the pace, I felt like I was gaining strength throughout the ride. I felt like if I was telling the whole room:


Leave the cycling to me. – VIA GIFBIN.COM

But instead, I’d humbly patted my forehead with a towel, while looking at my cycling machine’s resistance metre.

Then suddenly, everyone stopped pedalling, and class was over. And as I looked around, everyone else was either taking swigs out of their water bottles, or patting their sweaty bodies with terry cloth towels. I wasn’t alone after all, and even if I was, I just didn’t care anymore. I got off my machine and headed to the front of my class to give my friend a nice, sweaty hug and we had a brief chat. It turns out she also had her “I’M GOING TO OWN MY SWEATINESS” moment too. I guess you’re not alone in doing anything when you have a friend along.

As I walked out of the AC and passed the zombie-students of the Queens Park and Hart House crossing, I decided to march along with them, not feeling dreadful this time. Yeah, my tendons were aching, and my feet were burning, but my heart was racing, and I felt conditioned. I did not feel sluggish or gross inside (however,  I can’t say the same for my sweaty exterior). I felt jumpy and revived. I didn’t just break the sweat, but I broke the lazy mould that I was encompassing myself in for months. I did my first class, and for that, I’m proud.

The song of the physically active newbies - VIA   ZELABELL.TUMBLR.COM

The song of the physically active newbies – VIA ZELABELL.TUMBLR.COM