Why we need to say goodbye

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In order to grow, you need to say bye to old friends and family

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. August 4, 2016

I’m reaching a transitional point in my life where my time with friends and family is diminishing and therefore, growing ever more precious. Yet, the times that I do have with them are spent idle, spawning zero growth. We’re old friends—we’re family—we know what our personalities are like, we know what our opinions are, and we’ve reach a comfort zone where we no longer feel the need to push each other. My old friends and family have become content with the way I am, and therefore, I must say goodbye.

My mother did not want me to move out. Her plan was to have me live with her and take care of her. Additionally, she wanted me to progress, get married, get employed, and succeed. There was no way I could have done those things without first finding my own independence. She wanted me to stay the same caring little boy she thought I was. Selfishly, she wanted to keep me.

The same goes with workplaces. A quality worker is hard to find and quality employers know this and will do what they can to retain them. However, many workforces don’t offer good employees room to grow. Look at the diligent server or the hardworking barista; it doesn’t matter how many hours they put in, eventually, they will hit the ceiling. There are no more rungs on the ladder to climb.

With friends, it can get a little more complicated. There are no resignation letters, although you can write a Facebook message explaining why you don’t have time for their birthday parties or why you can’t go see that concert with them. Life is full of resistances and some come in the form of comfort. Friends are like a comfy bed; they don’t care if you get anything done during the day or if you lie there dreaming. Friends want you with them, but in doing so you revert to idleness, and that would be a great shame.

There will be a time when you have to make the decision to say goodbye to all the comfortable relationships you’ve created. Those moments weren’t wasted. Those moments lead you to where you are now. But you, like me, will one day reach this transition point, where you need to be realistic with the time you spend and ask: “Do I want to sacrifice my personal growth and potential success just so I can make this person, organization, or team happy?”

It’s not abandonment. It’s merely a departure. They can join you if they want, but they’ll have to understand the journey you are going on will be long and arduous. It can be an academic pursuit or it can be a business opportunity; either way, they need to buy in 100 per cent. If they don’t follow, no worries. There are many more people along the way, heading in your direction, waiting to say, “Hello.”

So, think about all the friends within your circle and ask yourself: “Are they joining me? Or is it time to say farewell?”

Friendly fire

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When do friendly insults become hurtful?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 3, 2015

While some dub it as a masculine trait, others label it as immaturity. I’m speaking of the act of friendly insults: when we call our friends “losers,” “bitches,” or “idiots” for fun. Even though this type of interaction varies from friend circle to friend circle, and each cultural group reacts differently to name-callings and put-downs, we all have experienced friendly fire at one point or another. The question isn’t if it exists, but when too much is too much.

How fine is the line between bullying and simply being vulgar for the sake of fun? No friendship begins by signing a term of agreement, saying that X amount of name-calling can be accepted. Usually, this type of behaviour evolves over time as comfort levels go up and social barriers go down.

I’ve worked in a restaurant with an all-male back-of-house staff, and that shaped the dynamic of the working environment greatly. I saw how men behaved with each other both as team members, friends, and leaders. At some point in the whole interaction, an individual is highlighted as both easy-going and resilient. That is the one who will become the butt of the joke, the one member of the team everyone is okay calling out without any repercussion.

You want to feel sorry for that lonely individual as others gang up on him. You want to help him or do what the anti-bullying ads advise and step in. But not when it’s friendly fire, not when the dude actually enjoys the attention.

If you find yourself as the guy who everyone is making fun of, know this: nobody will help you, because you’re laughing along with them. You are not in distress. You are not harassed. The interaction between you and your friends from the outside appears to be perfectly normal. If it bugs you, you’ll need to step up and say something.

Or you can stop the insults yourself. This type of interaction is not one-sided. More often than not, people only continue this trend because you are knocking it back into their court. Stop. Recognize that you are dishing as much as you are receiving and stop. Otherwise, it continues to be one vicious cycle.

I enjoy busting balls now and then. It’s a perfectly normal masculine expression of appreciation and tough love. But at some point, we do need to grow up. We need to treat our friends and peers with respect. We cannot go out in public and continue calling out our friends for their shortcomings when we are 40, 50, or 60 years old. At some point, too much is, in fact, too much.

The Report Card: Sport spectators

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By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 17, 2014

When it comes to our favourite teams and athletes, no matter how poorly they do, we must stick by them, because that’s what a good fan does. But sporting events are polarizing experiences: whatever happens, 50 per cent of the spectators will inevitably be disappointed. So, what is the most enjoyable way to view a game, an event, and a championship tournament and still get your money’s worth?

Pass: The comfort of a home/bar

For the price of admission, you can throw yourself and your fellow sports fanatics one hell of a house party. Not that you need an excuse, but game nights are the perfect reason to get a good group of friends together. Win or lose, at least you got to spend some quality time with people who share a common interest with you.

I believe that each sport is an art form, but unlike a concert, a theatre performance, or a slam poetry reading, you don’t have to be there in person to enjoy it. That is why there are channels dedicated to sport highlights, yet none dedicated to live Shakespearean productions. The same way music can be a backdrop to a party, so too can a sporting event. It might even give you a reason to cheer at the end.

If finances are a problem (they’re always a problem), then home viewing may just be the obvious choice, but it doesn’t make for any less of a spectacle. Bars are also accommodating alternatives. Some even offer incentives on game night: for each goal scored, you’ll get a free drink or an opportunity to win a prize at the end of the night. If the odds are with you, your team might not be the only winners.

Fail: Live from the nosebleed section

Who wouldn’t want to be there live during a game seven or an Olympic gold medal game? The pandemonium of victory is an exhilarating feeling that cannot be recreated in any other form. There’s nothing like 30,000 people cheering for the same reason. But is the frenzy worth it? Personally, I don’t think so.

Live games have become a supply-and-demand market, and the price for key games are often raised to an unreasonable price. Just for an example, the price for the Heritage Classic, a regular season game between the Canucks and the Senators played in an outdoor rink at BC Place, start at $104.20 and goes as high as $324.70. It’s an once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s a moment you’ll remember forever, but mostly it’s a publicity stunt—an obvious gimmick—and it’s a successful one.

Fans take pride in being diehards, and in order to be considered a diehard, one must buy season tickets and attend every game religiously, decked out in authentic apparel. A diehard must be succumbed by the capitalistic culture of the sport, right?

No! Sport is not scientology; if you have more money, that doesn’t make you holier or your team better. Sure, the only way to keep the team afloat is to attend the games, thus paying the athletes and their luxurious lifestyle, but that’s not something the fans should worry about—the fans aren’t the marketing team. The fans’ only job is to cheer wholeheartedly, and they can do that with the money in their pocket, at home, with a moderately priced beer in their hands.