One of those blog prompt books that I crack open to get the brain juices flowing spat out this theme three months ago. It’s only now that I have found the words to convey the theme that’s been running through my 2017:
Small potato in a big world.
From my seat at the top of the Lions/Binkert trail in West Vancouver, the urban areas of Greater Vancouver marked a grey puddle to my left. To my right, I stood over a tranquil Howe Sound and Bowen Island, both which looked surprisingly large compared the urban areas in the distance.
The city of Vancouver, which I am surrounded by daily, makes up the whole world as I know it. I know where landmarks and neighbourhoods are within that city, but what lays outside is (and still is) a mystery to me. And what’s outside is infinitely bigger than Vancouver, as I saw from the top of the Lions. As a person from the small, small puddle of concrete grey amidst vast expanses of land; I realized that my existence was quite minuscule and insignificant.
This sense of small-ness marked the beginning of this year as well when I began working in Ottawa. In the first week, my workplace hosted an orientation event for new employees. Twenty or so fresh, young faces filled up an entire boardroom. I elatedly rode on the energy in the air – of course, I was excited for the job, but moreover, my past workplaces never had orientation events of such scale.
From meeting others and asking about their backgrounds, I learned quickly that I was likely the youngest in the room with the least amount of experience, since I was still an undergraduate. The other new hires in the room had Master’s degrees and were working on fascinating projects with actual impacts on people (unlike undergraduate papers that are only read by professors and my mum). Some even had extensive professional experience under their belt in various sectors.
It hit me as I looked out at the circle of focussed, keen faces that some of the brightest minds in the field from across the country were right here in this boardroom. These people had obviously done extremely well in their academic programs to proceed onto graduate studies, and likely received funding for their graduate studies too. Furthermore, they proved their extraordinary intellectual and interpersonal capabilities yet again by securing highly-coveted (at least, according to my immediate peers and myself) employment at this organization. Compared to them and their achievements, myself as an undergraduate student from a tiny corner in Canada was nothing much. I may have held what I consider as some fairly significant leadership positions on campus, but if my accomplishments could be measured on a metre stick marked in centimetres, theirs were measured by measuring tapes marked in metres. In other words, their work was on a whole other scale from mine. They were in a whole other league.
So, whether it was from the top of the Lions in West Vancouver or in a boardroom in snow-covered Ottawa, my understanding of the world (and thus, how I fit into the world) changed as I saw things from a new perspective. From these vantage points so unlike my everyday point of view, I developed an appreciation for how awesomely immense the world is, and how small my presence truly is.