You’re having a mid-life crisis. Or an early mid-life crisis. Or a late one – perhaps even a crisis just trying to remember middle age. No matter how long it’s been since you graduated, come June, you still get that end-of-year report-card feeling. You take stock of the past year and wonder how you measured up. You forget what criteria you established to measure up. You decide to spend your summer vacation thinking up new criteria.
Big on Business
Mad about Science and Math
In Their Own Write
The Tangled Web
Then this arrives: U of T Magazine‘s list of impressive alumni aged 40 and under. You hate how magazines always make lists of impressive people, especially if they are also young. You hate to admit it, but impressive people under the age of 40 bug you.
Most of the people on this particular list did not even become impressive by being born at the right time, like the baby boomers. The oldest were born at the tail end of that lucky dog and got wagged like fleas when they graduated during the height of the mid-’80s recession. They were The New Lost Generation. Then came Generation X, who graduated to a future of McJobs. Then Generation Y, who entered the brave new economy of the ’90s and had to invent their own jobs. And now, HAL’s generation, graduating in 2001 and beyond, who, failing to understand the last century’s natural order of things (get a degree, then become impressive), published their books and started their upstart businesses, sometimes while still students.
You decide that the best use of this list is wrapping the summer’s catch of fish. But you can’t help yourself. You are a U of T graduate. You read on. You discover not only that these 40-and-unders stared down unemployment and an economy changing at the speed of e-mail, but also that they overcame poverty, illiteracy, racism and homophobia.
You discover that they are blazing unorthodox paths – as magician, queer comic, video-adventure designer. They’re making diversity a strength – as Bollywood TV star, hit playwright. They are speaking in their own unique voices – as opera superstar, literary bad girl. And they’re putting citizens back in democracy – advocating for political fairness, firing up real debate on TV.
You get to the end and feel that old stir from your student days. New ideas! Political fervour! Big, bold experiments! Boundless energy! Unique vision! Crazy optimism! You remember this is why you went to U of T in the first place.
Invigorated, inspired, you head off for vacation toting the previously disparaged list, confident that U of T’s future will continue to be impressive. You reread it in order to remember all the things you dreamed of doing when you first graduated. And you conclude that these kinds of lists are not so bad after all.