Mar 21, 2017 • Matthew Wang
~ 7 minute read • 1290 words
So firstly, I apologize to my one reader (hi John) for not writing posts earlier: I’ve had a brutal past 2 months (haven’t been at home on the weekends in the past 9 weeks), but that’s alright. Now, it’s the March Break, so I have a bit of time to talk about what’s been going on in the past few months, and a few of the lessons I’ve learned.
I think the largest lesson I’ve learned over this past 2 month period is overcommitting. Going into this academic year, I thought I had the majority of my shit together: I had a plan of what I was doing throughout the year, and was seemingly able to balance all of my responsibilities.
Unfortunately, the juggling act didn’t work quite so well. I had huge timesinks that demanded way more than I could give, especially WAC. My whole plan of me balancing school, extracurriculars, whatever a “social life” is, and sleep, had all collapsed in a heartbeat. I was guzzling Soylent (which is actually pretty good, no kidding) and pulling all-nighters to finish things that I never signed up to do. If you met me during the past few months, you could see the death (or not caring) in my eyes.
It really, really, sucked. Not only was I legitimately dead on the inside, but it made me do ridiculously poorly in school, lose a few friends, and even harmed the quality of my other work (which is kinda ironic). It’s an experience that I hope I won’t ever have to go through again. But, as always, maintaining that positive and learning attitude is what allows you to improve from these awful scenarios. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to exactly quantify what I’ve learned, since I’m still quite confuzzled. Next year, I’m not going to quit WAC (or, I’m not planning on it); and while I’ve been promised that the workload will be more spread out, I highly doubt that it’ll happen. I’m still going to have to do a huge amount of general coding and tech-related things, and that’s not a responsibility that’s helped by people graduating this year. I still will have to debate, do Model UN, and run conferences, and I don’t have a plan to make everything fit together and still aim to get 7’s in all of my courses.
But, at the very least, I’m trying. I’m trying to build systems that make my job much easier next year (e.g. Jekyll-fying OMUN and WAC, the whole student server space idea, and more exploratory CMS work), and hopefully that means I’m able to concentrate more on school and the other things that matter to me in life. I’m designing things to be more hands-off, LTS-style projects, like the Prefects Cup Website, that makes life easier for me and others to manage; even though this means less bleeding-edge changes, it’s ultimately better for my sanity. I’m working on passing down some commitments, and getting some of the more junior developers the ability to try out production-level projects, and hopefully bear the flag once I leave. It’s a long journey, and it’ll take a lot more work than I had ever expected, but it is progress.
triple crown versus nothing
A more tangential topic I’ve been thinking about is Model UN and debate. Debate has always been my favourite of the two (not to demean MUN) as it’s always been a bit of a home, and definitely a family for me. As you might know from previous blog posts, a lot of who I am as a person is shaped by high school debate: and for that, I’ll be forever grateful. There are also other reasons why I like debate just a bit more: I think it’s more competitive, I enjoy doing it more, and, previous to this year, I’ve been a bit more successful at it. I think it’s kind of a two-way relationship: if I really enjoy doing something, I’ll probably be better at it, and that ended up showing in my Grade 9/10 years.
This year, things have been a bit weird. In debate, I’ve had a quite disappointing year. No top 10 speaker finishes, no breaks past QFs, and dropping hard in provs. Comparatively, I got a top 10 last year, made it to an SF, and went to an international tournament. While these might mean nothing to you if you don’t debate (that’s alright), it does signal some kind of stagnation. I have literally done worse this year than last year in terms of objective standings, and that really sucks. Most of the time, as you get older, you get better: that makes this stagnation even worse.
Compound this with a very surprising set of events in Model UN. This year, I was able to gavel (or first place) in every single conference I went to, and this is colloquially known as a “Triple Crown”. It’s been 3 years since somebody has done this on our MUN team, so obviously I’m pretty happy that I was able to do so. This year was a successful year for me in MUN, far beyond what I would’ve expected. It’s what people normally expect: as you get older, you get better.
So, you can see why things are a bit weird. I’ve poured my heart and soul into debate, and slightly less (maybe only 4/5ths of my soul) into MUN, but I’ve gotten a lot more from an achievement standpoint from MUN this year than debate. Of course, I do care about more than just achievement, but it is a little unsettling (and quite a tilter) when other people tell me this “fun fact”.
In the future, I’m still going to probably do both, and if a conflict arises, I’m still going to take debate every single time (sorry MUN team). But, it does give me a newfound appreciation for MUN, and it does give me something to think about.
debate camp canada
Over the March break, I also had the privilege of being a camp counsellor at Debate Camp Canada. For me, this is a personal dream. I love being a camp counsellor, I love debate (and even the bit of MUN that we do), and I love scouting out debate talent and turning them into super awesome debaters.
By no counts was I disappointed. This week was awesome. The kids were awesome, the staff were awesome, the programs were awesome, my bosses were awesome. I enjoyed doing debate-related activities like debate feud, POI rounds, or listening to our glorious leader Kimathi give a seminar on rights; I also enjoyed tangential activities like lateral thinking puzzles (these were one of the highlights of camp, and I highly recommend you google them), backwards rounds, blind public speaking, and just spending time to get to know the kids. The staff members were also super cool: some of them were friends I knew from the high school debate community, and others were (for me) undiscovered gems and were just really awesome people (shout out to my boy Danyal).
This is a tidbit of positivity in a relatively depressing blog, so I just wanted to share with you a positive experience that I had. I’ll also be working with DCC in the summer, and I’m already waiting.
March Break is already more than half way over, and I feel weird. I’ve done more than I thought I would, but at the same time I’ve done a lot less. I’ve gotten a lot of rest, but I’m still tired. I guess I’m kinda just accepting that things will be hectic right now, and in the near future. But that should be alright. Shouldn’t it?