When I arrived at Concordia in 2011, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life despite having taken a year off after high school. I was always a pretty funny guy and going through the typical K-12 education it was easy to make friends in class. During my year off my anxiety and depression heightened, causing me to lose the only bit of confidence I had and retreat inwards socially.
I came to this school with several of my existing friends already attending, so I never put a real focus on reaching out and meeting new people. Fast forward a couple years and my friends had gone. I was forced to fend for myself when it came to socialising. The timing was terrible, a circumstance during this period turned over backwards and my life got flipped-turned-upside-down. I was so uninvolved at Concordia that I had no idea who the CSA was or what they did; hell, I didn’t even know we had a student newspaper. Thanks to my friends Sean Patrick and Morgan Belsek however, I was eventually introduced to the student governing body and the wonderful work they do at the beginning of 2014.
I never committed to working for the CSA or The Bolt because I figured I’d think about it over the summer and figure it out for the next year. I already had an immense passion for both politics and writing at that point but I was scared to commit. Having little confidence really swayed me from committing to anything at all. I needed to define my purpose and actively seek the wisdom and courage to do so.
Over the summer, I defined that purpose through a means of self-reflection and an abundance of literature. My purpose is to have a profound, positive impact on society and the people within it. My vision was that through writing, social work, teaching, and politics, I would be able to enrich the lives of those around me on an increasingly larger scale.
It wasn’t until August 2014 when I wrote my first article, “The Capacity to Love,” for The Bolt as a writer for the Advice Column. Through the advice column, I was able to give others a perspective into my reality. I wrote about the lessons I learned along the way and why I felt so strongly about each one. The feeling I received from knowing that someone, anyone, was reading what I had to say gave me so much internal satisfaction. Knowing that my words could be impactful was a lesson in and of itself.
My growth and maturation are completely documented in a sense. Through 44 issues over a three-year span, I was able to narrate my tumultuous journey and the bits of wisdom I obtained throughout.
Meeting our mayor, Don Iveson, was uncontestedly the highlight of my first year. Had I not joined The Bolt I would have had no reason to approach him in the Palm Springs airport other than to say “Hey, nice to meet you.” Instead, I realised (after our initial introduction) that I had a platform. I was in the presence of someone who I idolised and I had the opportunity (and what I felt was a responsibility) to ask him for some advice to share with my fellow schoolmates. I’ll reiterate because of its time-withstanding relevance: “Focus as much on extra-curricular activities as you do your studies. A lot of life happens by chance.” Wise words that I carried forward with me.
After my first year of writing, I was fortunate enough to take over as Editor-in-Chief. At the time, I didn’t really grasp the magnitude of what had been bestowed upon me. Was I now a tastemaker? A connoisseur of the arts? Probably not. However, it enabled me to transform The Bolt and increase its presence within these walls.
Ironically, the more involved I became in student life, clubs, and unions, the more I enjoyed my time here at Concordia (though I still love my friends). I started taking chances, trying new things, and really became a better person simply because of the position I had. I was forced to learn new skills, acquire new attributes, and develop new passions along the way.
My first issue as Editor-in-Chief was a complete disaster on my end. From the beginning, it was hectic: I was fairly disorganised and really had no experience with this before, which didn’t help my situation much. Thank goodness for the editing team. I knew there would be a learning curve, but at least I still knew how to print properly--or I thought I did. Instead, come Orientation Day, I printed about 300 issues wrong and printed them one-sided. By making that mistake, I actually wasted two times the amount of paper as I should have. Whoops.
As Editor-in-Chief, I made myself responsible for quite a few matters, one of those being the covers of The Bolt--something I’d always thought was interesting but had never had the chance to try. It began with some pretty lacklustre, boring, and unoriginal covers, but grew into something more! Now, the cover is something I take just as seriously as the writing I put in; it emits my feelings, my thoughts, and who I am. Covers are my interpretation of what’s in the issue: the stories, opinions, and information. Creating covers sparked within me a love for graphic design as a whole, which enabled me to express myself through visuals and pictures I felt were impactful.
It developed into so much more: a full-blown love and appreciation for the arts and people.
Through “Local Spotlight,” “Serial Fiction,” and “Breaking the Silence,” you and I were able to meet some incredible people with astounding stories. These stories did more than just show you about someone’s mental health or their funky fresh beats. The stories showed us regular, everyday individuals who showed tremendous courage--courage to rise up and express themselves.
We had entrepreneurs, musicians, studio owners, victims, soldiers, and even heroes share their stories. These individuals are no different than you and me, as all it takes is a little courage. Be who you want to be and don’t be afraid to be proud of it. People are generally pretty awesome if you give them a chance.
For me, it took a lot of courage to apply for this position, and from that courage I developed the confidence I sought after when I began this journey. There were mistakes along the way--oh boy, were there mistakes along the way. It may not have always been perfect, but it didn’t have to be. As an editing staff, I think we all learned from our mistakes, and in hindsight, there are still some things I would have done differently. As an individual, I realise that life is always about learning and growing, and this is just part of my maturation and growth.
I don’t look back on those errors as regretful occurrences. I’m happy I was given this opportunity, I’ve learned and changed my attitudes and behaviours because of it. I will forever be grateful for everyone who has taken the time to enjoy both The Bolt and my writing. My goal since I began writing has always been to share my story in hopes that I can make others feel like they’re not alone in their issues, beliefs, and opinions. This is expressed through messages of inclusivity, accepting one another and ourselves, and a mix of random political opinions and objections. Who can resist?
Thank you to everybody who has been a part of The Bolt, from all the writers and editors to all of the students and faculty who read this publication. I’ve met so many genuinely incredible people at this school, and I’m happy I can call a few of those people my friends. For those I have never met, I have nothing but love for you, and I hope we cross paths one day. These past six years, I’ve watched this school grow alongside me, and I can safely conclude that the future is bright. Not only for the university but for its students as well. That is the power of writing.
Peace and love.