Lessons from a 25 year old proto-adult (AKA a graduate student)

Today has inspired a great deal of thinking on my part…where I have come from (particularly the last 2/3 years of my life), my mistakes, my triumphs and most importantly the things that I have learnt along the way. I am far (super far ,like really, really far) from perfect but then again that begs the question…is anyone perfect? Life is one long learning experience, which in my opinion is the beauty of it. We are all continually growing and developing, and with this growth comes experience and perspective. Perspective is the key word here. Think back on your 5-year-younger self…or even your 1-year-younger self, there are probably many of us that would run out of fingers counting the number of things over which we’d kick/slap ourselves. I think perspective makes us wise, in the most personal sense of the word. It helps you learn more about yourself and the things you are good at and those you should probably think twice about.

Today, after many a month wait (for examiners to review my dissertation and uhm other “hassles”) I have officially submitted my dissertation and in the eyes of the university possess an MSc. Printing that document today (and fighting with the machine because it was being temperamental and maddeningly slow) and checking each page I came across the acknowledgements. Two things struck me- first: I was reminded of my favourite quote which sits proudly at the top of the page and second: some might be surprised by those who I acknowledged in it. You see life is complex, and along the way we lose people to change, change our relationships with some and develop stronger relationships with others. I do not regret a single one of these connections as each has influenced my life and in some way that I may not comprehend, turned me into the person I am today. I quite like the current me…

Lesson 1: Make mistakes and make them often. Weird huh? but how else will you learn? despite the difficulties I have gone through I would not wish them changed. Remember that key word? Yes, perspective 🙂

Lesson 2: Be yourself, unapologetically so (unless you know, you are a douchebag then try to work on that)

Lesson 3: Do something that you can do today, today, not tomorrow

Lesson 4: Be thrifty! (No one likes a leech- and after all who likes to be broke) AKA when you feel like a millionaire after that bi-yearly grant claim do not have spending habits that reflect that, as those other five months will be less than fun.

Lesson 5: Have fun! and don’t be serious all the time (Heard of work hard, play hard?). Let your hair down, dance like a fool and build up a collection of embarrassing (i.e. epic) stories.

Lesson 6: Accept that not everyone will like you (shock, yes not everyone will want to be around you, and that’s ok- there are others who will-find them!)

Lesson 7: Linked to L6- develop a thick skin (the hypothetical or emotional, not callusy kind). Everyone has bad days and sometimes that mean thing someone said/wrote is not how they actually feel.

Lesson 8: Keep your emotions/feelings in check (but don’t be a rock- refer to the conditions in L2)

Lesson 9: Always have dreams or goals and never think they are too big (unless you want to be a superhero, then Lesson 10 is for you)

Lesson 10: Be realistic about what you can and cannot do (i.e. do not overextend yourself but set little goals, achieve them step by step). As much as you want to have it all done now you cannot , BUT great things can arise from continuous accumulation of teeny-tiny steps.

Lesson 11: Learn about yourself! Yes odd as this may sound I think most people have not given themselves the time to explore what makes them tick. If this means seeing a psychologist to help you along then do that! (unfortunate stigma aside).

Lesson 12: Linked to L11- spend time with yourself and enjoy it! , only then can you truly appreciate the intricacies of amazing friendships.

Lesson 13: i.e. lesson 11.1- learn to love yourself

Lesson 14: Appreciate the small things- admire the leaves of the tree swaying in the wind, the birds chirping, the warmth of the sun (whatever floats your boat).

Lesson 15: learn to accept change and that not everything will always stay the same. Move on, continue growing and embrace it with open arms.

Lesson 16: Find those people who are special to you and who you will always treasure 🙂 but remember L6 and L8.

Lesson 17: Hold on to positive memories but don’t forget the negative ones. Sound similar? I don’t think so- What I mean is that you should cherish all the good memories and learn from the bad.

Lesson 18: Do not hold grudges (as easy as this is to do- and I am likely a slight hypocrite as I write this haha but continually learning remember, a work in progress).

Lesson 19: Remember to work on your obsession with even numbers and multiples and write a random “lesson” just to fill up the space to get to 20. Ah yes, an even number- perfection.

Lesson 20: “Have courage and be kind”

Lesson 20 means a lot to me, and if you are up on your recent disney movies you may recognise it. Ten points to those who guess it correctly….Yes it is from the Cinderella (and may or may not be that quote I referred to earlier). Ok before you go judging me (maybe I partially judge my own movie taste) think about the quote. It pretty much covers all aspects of life, the ultimate path to being the elusive perfect human. If all you take away from reading this let it be that. Always remember to be kind, you never know what someone else is going though or perhaps how they perceive or experience it. Be understanding. Finally have the courage to be yourself, to go after what you want and to heal from that which hurts us or that which we have to overcome.

I have made mistakes, I have hurt, I have cried, I have felt hopeless and defeated, I have felt lonely and unappreciated and I have felt useless, BUT I have also felt wonder, I have felt loved and cared for, I have felt awe, I have felt accomplished , I have felt excited and inspired and I have experienced infectious happiness. Basically I am human, I am alive and I am always growing.