It’s crazy to think how fast the years of university slog have flown by. As cliché as it sounds, it honestly feels like I finished high school just yesterday. Turns out that yesterday was four years ago.
In May I was finally able to put the exclamation mark at the end of the University chapter of what I call my ‘book of life’. What a feeling it was to don my robes and my fancy square hat. Once the fear of falling on my face on stage was a distant memory, there was nothing left that was stopping me.
I have learned a lot over these years, believe it or not. Often the things we learn in either at school or in life will help us succeed in the future. To infinity and beyond!
I’ve managed to ascertain some golden rules over these infamous uni years. Some that will undoubtedly stick by me when the testing times call and some I will probably forget by this time next year.
Life’s opportunities are an equal measure of what you know and who you know. Don’t waste time with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do. But don’t burn your bridges either. Most of your opportunities will come to you through a familiar face.
You don’t have to have a dream, everyone talks about having these big dreams and if it’s big enough and you believe in it enough then go for it I say. But if you spend all your life searching for this dream then realise you’re 80 plus staring into the abyss of nothingness it won’t really matter because you’ll be dead soon anyway. I always felt intrigued and pressured to pursue these said dreams, but I could never really find one that stuck or that made any logical sequential sense. So I advocate for a passionate dedication to the pursuit of short term goals. Be micro ambitious. Put your head down and work hard at something that is right there in front of you. You’ll find that all of these short term goals lead to the fruition of that long term dream you never thought you’d achieve or want in the first place. You’ll never know where you might end up or how you will end up. Just be mindful not to fixate on them too far in front of you, if you do that then you won’t appreciate the smaller shinier things that helped get you there in the first place.
Don’t seek happiness every waking moment of the day. If you hope for it too much the genuine nature of it will go away. Keep yourself busy and aim to make someone else’s day happy. You might find yourself a little share of it in the process. Happiness is a great side effect and we didn’t evolve to be constantly content. Feel sad, feel angry, don’t deny the multitude of feelings you were programmed to have.
This life you live is a sheer amount of luck. We are lucky to be born in this world and be alive living in it, we are lucky to experience momentous events and lucky to have grown up in households that support the value of education. If you were brought up in an incredibly unsupportive household, remember that you are still lucky. Lucky that you still have a brain that will tell you you are much more than your disadvantages in life. You’re lucky that you can see the value of education or a job in a room full of darkness and make it better rather than it being handed to you on a silver platter. I suppose I can say that I worked hard to graduate and achieve what I achieved. But I didn’t create the part of me that worked hard, any more that I made the bit of me that worked hard to eat two pieces of chocolate cake at morning tea time. Understanding that you can’t fully take all the credit for your successes nor blame others for your failures will make a more humble you. We need more compassionate humbles in the world. Empathy is intuitive but it is also something that you can work on intellectually.
Be hard on your opinions. Everyone has them. Our opinions should be constantly and thoroughly examined. We must think critically and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs and identify your biases and your privileges. Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge false subsets and using two differing sets of assumptions. You don’t need to be superstitious to be a poet, you don’t need to be a greeny to care about the planet. You don’t need a degree in English to write beautiful things. You don’t need to claim a soul to feel compassion.
Be a teacher even if you aren’t one. Share your ideas and don’t take for granted your university education. Be proud of what you have learned and projectile vomit it everywhere.
Define yourself by what you love. I have found myself lately however getting into habitual notions of negativity and hate. People’s ideas of belonging to a sub culture these days is about ganging up on things they hate. “I hate One Direction or feminists or rugby or that National party”. We have a tenancy to define ourselves in opposition to others. Try to express passions towards things and people you admire and be generous with it. Be pro and not just anti.
Respect those with less power than you. Forget being the bigger man. I don’t care who you are or how tall you are. Treat others how you want to be treated and walk a mile in their shoes. I will judge how you treat the little man.
Don’t sprint. You don’t have to know what you’re doing with your life just yet or know where you are going. Those of us who have already figured it out can guarantee themselves a mid life crises later on. Life is meaningless, it’s crazy to try and seek meaning in a set of circumstances that happened to exist after some 8 billion years of unguided events. Leave it to us humans to think that the universe has a purpose for us, the universe does not owe us anything. In fact it is the complete opposite.
Life will sometimes seem like it’s long, tough, tiring or boring. Sometimes you’ll be happy and sometimes you’ll be sad. One day you’ll be dead. There is only one sensible thing to do with such an empty existence and that is to fill it. Learn as much as you can, take pride, share compassion, be enthusiastic, run, jump, find love, fall out of love, have more than one career. Moments such as these are exciting. It’s ours for the taking.
You can’t have life your way. It is all about compromise. My B+ average didn’t get me my job. And I know a job didn’t just land in my lap because I expected it too. I landed it because I embraced my 9 golden rules. Take the leap, work hard and do what it takes to get it done, whatever the “it” may be. If you know what you want, and you are prepared to work your arse off for it, then there’s not much stopping you. If you aren’t prepared to run the miles, then it’s not what you want to do.
Embrace the risk- fortune favours the brave. Life is not a one way street. It always asks for a little back. I call it a life tax.