After graduating this June, everyone keeps telling me “welcome to the real world.” And I’ve been trying to figure out what this so called “real world” is. How is it different? What does it mean? Am I ready for it?
You see, as a co-op student, we live in 4-month intervals. 4 months of work, 4 months of school. 4 months we have a real job, wear professional work clothes, wake up at 7 and go to bed at 11 every night. It’s like playing kitchen when we were toddlers, playing pretend grown-up for a while until the 4 months are up. We relinquish all responsibility to our employers and then return to become students again! The exciting thing is the challenge of going back and forth and testing our classroom theories with real-world applications.
But we don’t forget the journeys our co-ops have taken us on. We got to know a new company, often a new city or country, filled with the trials and tribulations of new roommates, co-workers and new friends. The co-op experience has allowed us to step outside of our comfort zones long enough, to let new experiences transform our minds and our hearts.
I often wonder though, if I am ready for the “real world.” I have been in Calgary for the last 3 and a half months and as I look down at my hands I notice the calluses from my last move are almost out of sight and if things work out as planned I will be here for quite some time. Will my hands learn that this time, after 4 months, I am not packing up all my belongings and moving? Maybe that is what “welcome to the real world” means? Or maybe the real world means that the institutions that so graciously gave me loans, will so be calling a little less gracious to get it back? It’s true that on paper, I don’t have riches at the moment; but anyone that sees me, knows I am wealthy.
I have passion, excitement, health, knowledge and experience granted to me by one of the best institutions in the world. This has inspired me to mesh the two worlds and create a social enterprise!
About a month back, Muhammad Yunus was speaking at the University of Waterloo. Professor Yunus, is a social entrepreneur and Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work in building Grameen Bank (a micro-loans operation for the poor). Professor Yunus said: “Money provides happiness. Selflessness provides super happiness.” In his writings he also equates the poor to Bonsai trees – the small potted tree, unable to be self-sufficient not because its seed is bad, but because it wasn’t planted in enough soil.
Professor Yunus also says, “to me all humans are entrepreneurs. It’s in our DNA.”
This gives me great hope for the social business I helped co-found with my fiancé: FullSoul Canada.
I’ve decided instead of searching for the so-called “real world” I am going to live in pursuit of the world I imagine. The world we have created here in classrooms! The world I’ve talked about with my fellow graduates until the wee hours of the night. The world I imagine each day in growing FullSoul Canada out of the University. I dream of a day where social business will be the only business, and that there will be enough soil to seed the earth, making sure no human is a bonsai.
If there is anything I have learned from the University of Waterloo it is that ideas do start here. But ideas are like wings – their power comes from being able to spread them out and fly into the world. I know my hands will come to love the lack of moving calluses and instead find solstice in moving ideas through the world.