Achievement and age don’t go hand in hand

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This past summer, the Canadians swept gold, silver and bronze in the individual senior young rider’s division of the 2017 FEI North American Junior Young Rider Championships horseback riding competition.

As a member of the equestrian community, this was obviously an exciting moment. These three young athletes made Canada proud and they’re the future of the sport in our country.

However, rather than focusing on their accomplishments, much of the conversation about their sweep was a discussion of their ages.

“What were YOU doing at age 19?” read a large section of the comments and the headlines.

From Simone Biles at the 2016 Olympics to child stars like Drew Barrymore still making it big, the accomplishments of young people are astounding.

By all means, please celebrate the accomplishments of these young people and celebrate what they’ve done so early in their lives, but don’t discount those who are taking a more conventional route.

Wilfrid Laurier University is filled with talented young people. Even getting this far with your education should be an accomplishment in itself. Just because other 19 year olds won an Olympic medal doesn’t make your accomplishments any less valid.

Besides, no one ever has to be “the best” to be valued. Every accomplishment, whether on a personal level or on an international stage, is worth celebrating.

If anything, these young athletes prove that age is just a number when it comes to achieving dreams. That, of course, can be used in the opposite sense as well.

We are never too old to set a new goal or to achieve something we’ve always wanted to. Just because someone did it younger than you, doesn’t make any of your accomplishments any less valid.

Look at some of the mature students at Laurier for your example. For whatever reason they’re here, they’re here earning their degrees and working just as hard as our twenty-something majority – if not harder.

So, to answer the question, what I was doing at 19 is completely irrelevant in the long run as long as I’m trying and making goals for myself to achieve throughout my life, no matter the age.

When I was 19, I was working my butt off, fighting my mental illness, working for this newspaper and taking classes full time, year round. I have a set goal in my heart that keeps me trying through hard times.

Whether I accomplish that at 23 or at 56 is a side note – if I achieve my goals, it’s a win no matter when it happens.

At the same time, I’m not going to be salty if I’m working with a 19-year-old because, when I was 19, I was doing what was best for me at the time.

It goes without saying that a lot of us really love school. There were countless tweets about coming back to Laurier this year and most of the conversations I had with my Laurier friends this August were about the excitement of returning.

If we love where we are and what we’re doing, age doesn’t matter in the slightest.

Whether you’re a 12-year-old entering an undergraduate program or a 90-year-old getting back at it and planning to graduate this year, welcome – and you are welcome.Grabbing gold medals, gathering around a study sheet or doing both, never let anyone shame you out of doing the activities you’re passionate about – and don’t regret what you love when your laugh lines turn into wrinkles.

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