This week’s post was delayed to coincide after the CRT fifteen year reunion. Of course, it ended up being much longer than I was anticipating, hence, I spent a little more time on, during the morning and afternoon subway rides.
This September marked the 15-year anniversary of the founding of the University of Waterloo Campus Response Team. I won’t blurb much on the history, it’s not my place to do that. What I want to talk about is my reflection on these past few years, and my appreciation of the team that has been my ‘family’ while I’ve been here on the East side of Canada.
I joined CRT in the winter of 2010, as a young, naive-minded first year, wanting to seek the continuation of my first aid career after having to leave the organization I was involved with during high school, behind. But those years were slow and quiet. I was on the team, but didn’t do much. I put in my hours, met people, but was still ridiculously reserved. I put in my hours, but only just, because even though I was part of the team, I want actually “a part of the team. “
At least, I didn’t feel that way. It was the problem, or, I like to think of as the characteristic, that I always had: the long road it takes for me to feel comfortable around people.
I can’t say that I am one who is quick to make friends. In fact, it often takes me about three years of interaction before I’m no longer upright around people. I don’t mean to say that I give in a corner and run away from everyone who talks to me. No, I mean that it just takes that long for me to treat people as friends, instead of just merely acquaintances. (These are the original definitions of the words, not the Facebook redefinition.)
So it was quiet, and marginally lacked fulfillment. I doubted at the end of every term whether or not there was any point to me returning. But every term, I still did. I joined because CRT gave me something to. I joined because CRT was an environment to meet people. And even though initially I never really grew particularly close with those in CRT, they were people that I knew, outside of the competitive battlefield that was my Civil class. And, in a sense, spread three thousand kilometres away from everyone I really knew, I wasn’t completely alone.
Perhaps in those early years, the age (and the university hardening) discrepancy between me and the rest of the team was too much, and it was difficult to connect with people. And even though they welcomed me with open arms, I was always hesitant to let myself be caught in the embrace of others.
But every subsequent term, I still came back. I joined because CRT gave me something to. I joined because I couldn’t let go of my first aid career. I joined because CRT was an environment to meet people. And even though I never really grew particularly close with those in CRT, they were people that I knew, outside of the competitive environment that was my Civil class.
Perhaps in those early years, the age (and the university hardening) discrepancy between me and the rest of the team was too much, and it was difficult for me to connect with people. But things have slowly changed.
With CRT, I went to my first ACERT conference, a conference hosted by the first aid teams of the universities as an opportunity to meet, connect, and compete with fellow university campus responders. We went to Trent University in Peterborough for the NCCER 2012. There were seminars and a competition. I didn’t compete but I was a volunteer and I got to watch, and I got to be around, part of a group of people gathered for the sake of our own personal interests and motivations in an environment where we were able to let loose the overbearing burden of university, and just have fun.
And I cannot forget experiences or the bonding that took place between members of the team. And I don’t want to say something as lame as: “and then CRT didn’t seem so bad”, but it was kinda like that. There was a sense of welcoming and adoption that I had not always witnessed from people.
Peterborough was where it slowly changed for me, where I stopped seeing CRT as an imposition, as something that I had to do to maintain my certification and skill, to a group of people that I would be proud to know and call friends.
Of course, things didn’t change overnight at Peterborough. (Or in more proper terms, it didn’t change over a weekend.) I was still the reserved person that I had always been, except now my eyes, (and mind, I suppose) had opened up a little more.
Then again, the people were good people too. There was one person from CRT – one person whom I hold in the highest regard of reverence and respect. Yes, there is indeed a person in this world who I respect the most, and do so openly declare it. He was highly instrumental to my incorporation into CRT. I remember he went out with effort to try and bring me to events, get me involved. I wasn’t always persuaded, but it was a start. More importantly, he showed me that I had a place to fill in the team – a niche to fill. He was aware of my presence, and he made sure well that I was aware of it myself. He reminded me of my contribution to the team, and how it had positively influenced others. He brought me into the CRT group like no one ever did before. And where originally I had been hesitant to let go and allow myself to be caught, I was now entering the embrace of my fellow CRT members.
This person whom I revere was far more mature than me, even though he was a much newer face to the team (Joined later than I had). In university, I have learned that you cannot judge a person’s wisdom by their age or their look. I consider myself to be a fairly knowledgeable person, but I’ve met plenty more wise people from CRT many of which are not that much older than me, and some are even younger. Hopefully by now, the life lessons I’ve learned are letting me catch up a little bit. (I’ve since informed this person of my debt and my thanks.)
And so I felt accepted and a part of something. I stood as a part of the team, happy and content to call myself a member, happy to offer my input and support, happy to be a part of something that I personally felt a part of. Other people can tell you that you that they appreciate your presence or contribution as a part of the whole, but it’s never the same until you see it first hand, and believe in it yourself that it takes hold and empowers you. And that’s what was slowly starting to happen.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until this most recent summer that I was finally able to let go of all reservation, throw myself towards the team, and let myself be caught. And I tell you, three long years leading up to that point made it all the more rewarding when that moment finally came.
And so maybe that is what I am used to when it comes to meeting people. My long road to friendships remains constant as it has always been.
I stand aside; I wait. I wait to watch and see how people respond to me. I watch and wait and then evaluate. I listen, I learn; and I pay attention to what I yearn. And when the time comes down to it, there are no surprises for me to hit.
It’s worked for me in High school, it continues to worked for me now. Why it takes me this long to get used to friends, I don’t know how. But it works; it works. And those whom I have as friends, I will keep to whatever ends. For I chose wisely, and I keep close. Hopefully, that is a reward to those who are crazy enough to be friends with someone as crazy as me.
So now we pop forward to today. And I’ll admit, being an exec of CRT is not something for me. I like to give back, and give back I have, but in my own way, and at my own pace. I’ve been the “photographer” for the team these past few terms. I’ve added my sweat and blood (yes actually) to documenting and preserving memories for the team. And it’s a niche that I find I fit in very well. It is very “me”. For this was a way that I have ‘given back’ to the team, in my little way.
I am happy, and my job is done. I have come full circle and all is good in the world.
As it would be said (if you catch this reference): so long, and thanks for all the… cake?