Letter From The Editor

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Dear IW page # 2,

Welcome back from what I hope was an awesome Reading Week. Congratulations to fourth years who got their Iron Rings. Yayyy to Vancouver Winter Olympics. Happy Belated Family Day. Happy Belated Chinese New Year. Happy Belated Valentine’s Day. Whoa! A lot has happened in the last three weeks and honestly I have missed looking for interesting stories, spamming peoples’ emails for submissions and our beloved production weekend when I get to spend the entire weekend in a room of concrete walls with no windows and hearing the rumblings of an annoying fan. Catching up with sleep and watching the Winter Olympics have been the highlight of my reading week.  4 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze so far and overall good performances by Canadian athletes have given me the adrenaline dose which will hopefully keep me going through the term.   Lo and behold! How many of you knew Justin Lamoureux, a Canadian snowboarder, part of men’s half pipe team in Winter 2010 Olympics is a UW mechanical engineering undergraduate? And people think engineers are nerds. Hmph!
I promised you a birthday party at the beginning of term and here it is. In celebration of IW’s 30th anniversary we will have a showcase of old archives. It will give you a chance to look at old newspapers and observe how the content has varied in some aspects while many issues have remained the same. There have been changes in layout and overall finishing of the paper too which show the effort that people have put in over the years to make this newspaper better for you. I invite you to come out on March 2nd – March 4th in the CPH main foyer between 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM to take a glimpse into the past. We will also give free hot chocolate on Thursday!
I may have ranted about this previously but for me one of the most stressful part of being the EIC is coming up with an editorial topic – something that is worthy enough to keep you occupied with what looks like a huge wall of text (bordered by masthead and such things to show some level of mercy on both the reader and the writer) and interesting enough for me to write an entire page on. The fact that I had the entire reading week with only one midterm coming up this week doesn’t help at all. This also means that I wrote four midterms in the week prior to the reading week, had an infinite number of assignments and lab reports due, and attended classes, which left me with little time for trivia such as food, shower and sleep. Not that I haven’t heard of worse schedules but for me it was the most hectic and stressful week of my undergrad so far. Surprisingly, although I had less time to prepare for midterms later in the week, I felt that I performed better as my stress level decreased. I am not a professional psychologist or psychiatrist or counselor or anything fancy like that but I think I am a good candidate to talk about this topic because I have responded to similar situations with varying levels of stress throughout my life and seen the results.
Being mentally composed and maintaining a somewhat decent level of sanity is important to all of us, because we have to deal with varying levels of stress as long as we live. But before analyzing our attitudes, we have to understand that stress is subjective and something that makes you throw a fit might make your friend cringe his eyebrow for a split second. It can be because you are more sensitive to that particular issue, you have different priorities or maybe just because the other person doesn’t get bothered too much by anything at all. In the end, it does boil down to individual personality traits and how you perceive and interpret the world around you. Having said that, humans are not stone-clad constant beings and we evolve based on our experiences and circumstances.  Therefore, if not having a hundred friends isn’t bothering you as much as it used to back in high school there is nothing to worry about. It is something that you as a person have ruled out as insignificant.
Secondly, stress is not altogether bad; a lot of people feel that they are more creative in their thoughts and more productive as deadlines loom closer and this is just one aspect of it. Scientific research has also shown that stress promotes personal growth and self-improvement and lets you adapt to changes in life. We should welcome challenges and adverse events in our life as opportunities to build our character and learn new skills. It is a part of human growth and equips us with insight to lead a healthier life. But if assignments are making you loose sleep at night or giving you nightmares,  or anxiety about something is keeping you from focussing and pursuing your goals, it’s time to actively change that behaviour.
The first step, in my opinion, is to share your thoughts and feelings with close family and friends. Letting go of worrisome thoughts can do wonders. If you think you need professional help go for it; there is nothing disgraceful about making conscious efforts to improve one’s lifestyle.
Keep yourself focused on your goals and in perspective. Always think about the long term impact of your decisions and actions. Is studying for a quiz more important than your brother’s birthday? Is studying for an exam more important than your sister’s wedding? These are the kinds of situations a lot of us have faced or will likely face in future and we should make wise decisions. A milestone that meant the world to you five years ago might not be too significant when seen in retrospect.
Be optimistic towards challenges, do your best and keep realistic expectations about the outcome. And don’t lose hope if the results dissatisfy you. Ups and downs are a part of life and getting too nerve-wrecked about them doesn’t take us anywhere. Draw reasonable limits for yourself; if you are not too worried about falling marks it might be OK – you have made it to university which is an achievement in itself. However, you do need help if failed courses don’t bother you. The same goes for those students who aim for excellence; you will be giving your brain unnecessary work-out by agonizing over getting a ninety-nine percent instead of a perfect.
Try to stay away from tension creating elements; if things are not working out with friends or relationships and it’s keeping you distracted, maybe it’s time to move away from them – talk it out. Don’t watch too much mainstream news, or movies that disturb you. Indulge in activities that make you happy and give you a sense of satisfaction and worth such as hobbies, social service, volunteering etc.
In the end, if my rant didn’t get any wheels churning in your mind research has shown that high stress levels lead to personality disorders and yield a higher risk of chronic diseases such as heart diseases, cancer, stroke and even immune system malfunctioning. Not only that, too much tension on minor routine matters can add up and can affect mental and physical health significantly.
With these thoughts I reach the end of my editorial. I know I haven’t given a full account what’s included in this issue and that’s partly because I don’t have enough space left and partly because I feel like it’s something I can get away with by copy-pasting from any of the previous issues anyway. Some interesting articles to read in this issue include an update by the PDEng Task Force, Canada’s first gold in the Winter Olympics, tips on finding housing, launch of NASA shuttle mission and some very thoughtful opinion pieces on Mother Language Day, Valentine’s Day and the pro-life ad shown during the Superbowl game in US. My last sentence will definitely be a copy-paste – provide us with feedback on how we are doing!

Smile C:
Amrita Yasin

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