Every morning, after spritzing on my perfume, I put two rings on my right hand. On my ring finger I wear a small diamond ring, a Christmas gift from my mom when I was 14. On my middle finger, I wear a larger gold ring, emblazoned with a green “T”.
The T-Ring, as it’s called, marks me as an alumnus of St. Thomas University in Fredericton. University tradition dictates that you receive it in your graduating year. At the T-Ring Ceremony in January, those graduating formally turn their ring to face outwards, symbolizing the knowledge they will share with others. Before the ceremony, the ring faces inwards.
I have worn my ring religiously since first receiving it a couple weeks before the ceremony. It’s a pretty eye-catching ring, and I liked showing what institution I was affiliated with in a town with two universities. More than that, it represented my entire university experience, along with the degree hanging on my bedroom wall.
Over four years ago, the day before classes started in my first year, I received a small gold pin with a green “T” at the T-Pin ceremony. The pin, I was told, marked me as a member of the university community.
For the first time in my life, I really did feel like I was part of a community. Not only did I make friends, I made friends like me. I made friends who shared a love of writing, and friends who stayed up late with me to write a paper we had both left to the last minute. After spending years making sure no one but my family saw me without makeup, I had to share a room with a girl I had never met. As it turned out, she didn’t care if I wasn’t wearing makeup, or if I was in pyjamas.
I don’t know how many papers and exams I wrote, or how many late nights I had. When it was all said and done, I ended up with a piece of paper, memories, and my ring.
To me, the ring is more than just a symbol of my graduate status. It reminds me of everything that happened at university, both good and bad. It reminds me of all the friends I made, and the people who would greet me around campus. It reminds me of the time when we built a huge snowman in the courtyard after a snowfall. It reminds me of the time when TV finally clicked for me, and I put together a story I was proud of by myself. It also reminds me of the time when I got a mark well below what I would have liked on a difficult exam, because I had underestimated it.
I have a new important object now. I got my car a month before beginning my first postgraduate job here in Sylvan Lake. It takes me to the events and people I need to do my work. It allows me to explore places I never would have gone before, and do things that would have been impossible without it. I’ve learned a lot, seen a lot, and grown a lot since I first came to Sylvan, and my car has enabled all that to happen. It lets me choose where I want to go, and when and how I want to get there.
My ring and my car are very different. One is a small chunk of metal that stays on my finger. The other is a much larger chunk of metal that moves around with my direction. However, both create opportunities for me. The ring represents my potential, and the car allows me to pursue it.