No, not that kind of dinosaur.
Dinosauring is the affectionate term we use to refer to the delegates who are attending their last parliament, usually as they are aging out. It refers to the transition from delegate to alumni. As I approach my last parliament and prepare ‘to dinosaur’, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to reflect on my OYP journey. In doing so, I’ve been reminded yet again why this space is so important to me.
My first parliament was in 2012. I came in as a nervous, shy and slightly (okay, extremely) awkward 16 year old. Despite my own reservations, I experienced a weekend that challenged me to find my voice, step out of comfort zone and try new things. Since that first parliament I have become increasingly involved, serving as a cabinet and executive member in various capacities.
One of the most important aspects of my parliament involvement has been knowing that OYP is a constant. Behind all the teary eyed goodbyes was the silent understanding that we would be back next year. Even as I was back in my ‘normal’ life, dealing with school and other commitments, I knew OYP would be back.
But now it won’t be.
At least, not in the traditional sense. And that’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around. For each of the past five year’s I knew that next year I could say the things I had wanted to in the house or take the chance I wasn’t able to. This year, not so much. I won’t be able to speak up more in next year’s debate, or dance more emphatically next year. In that sense, I know I have to lay it all out this year and make the most of every moment.
And I think that’s good advice for everybody. Whether this is your last parliament, your first, or somewhere in between – don’t go home with any regrets. Don’t wait for next year’s parliament – do it this year.
Even though I know I won’t have any more parliaments to attend, I know OYP will always be here for me. Every year we hear greetings from alumni who are still indebted to this organization. Alumni come and dance it out with us at the banquet. Adult Resource Counsellors are reunited over the weekend and share in laughter and joviality. They are living proof that while you can take the dinosaur out of OYP, you can’t take OYP out of the dinosaur.
When you get down to it, that’s really what makes OYP so great, and why I’m not afraid to dinosaur. I’ll miss the debate, the dancing, the spiritual reflection and everything else the weekend has to offer, but it won’t be going anywhere. Even though I’ll be a visitor and not a participant, all the factors that make OYP great will still be there. Most importantly I know the friends I’ve made and the supports I’ve developed will always be there.
If these thoughts seem unnecessarily wordy and sporadic, it’s because they are. But having to think about leaving something that means as much to me as OYP does is difficult. Articulating those thoughts, even more so. As I get ready for my last parliament, I feel the same nervousness I did for my first. But just as I’ve come to learn throughout the years, I know that parliament, and the people it encompasses, will always be there for me.
Because at OYP, we are proud that we are one.
Written By Michael Harris