Being able to obtain an education is one of the greatest gifts the world can offer and I’m grateful for all that I learned in my four years of college–both inside and outside the classroom. That said, I firmly believe that it is possible to learn just as much outside an academic setting, if not more. Going out into the world is a different type of learning than what is offered inside a university setting–rather than developing my critical thinking skills and pushing the boundaries of my mind as I did in college, I’ve learned a lot from personal experiences in the last year. Here I present some little nuggets of wisdom that I took away from my first year out of college. It’s only the beginning and I’m positive there is much more to come from my ventures in learning out in the quote-on-quote “real world.” So, without further ado:
- Loneliness is sometimes self-inflicted. You and only you have the power to build relationships with the people around you. No one else will do that for you. If you’re nice to people and show an interest in them, they’ll probably like you. For most of my life, I’ve struggled with building meaningful relationships with people and had no idea what to do–turns out it’s way easier than I ever thought and I just over analyze the hell out of everything.
- An unknown future is only terrifying if you allow it to be terrifying. Too many people are afraid to follow their dreams because they’re afraid of the unknown, but life is too short not to embrace the opportunities you want to embrace. In fact, if it scares you, you’re probably doing something right.
- Continents don’t divide friendships, people divide friendships–and sometimes, that’s okay. Not all relationships are meant to last forever.
- Likewise, sometimes a relationship that looks like it’s broken is only simmering for a bit, waiting for the right time to rekindle. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to realize whether a relationships is broken or simmering. Sometimes it won’t become apparent until that person has made an entrance back into your life…so just give it time.
Don’t say no to adventures. They make life more exciting. During my TESOL course in Thailand, we were told to never say no if a Thai person asked us to do something with them. Looking back, I didn’t heed this advice as much as I should have and probably ended up missing out on some pretty cool experiences and relationships as a result. Regardless, I’ve now taken this advice and modified it to better fit life wherever I am in the world: “If someone is doing something that looks awesome and they invite you to come along–do it. If they don’t invite you, ask if you can come. If an opportunity arises for you to do something exciting and cool, no matter how last minute it might be–try your darnedest to make it happen.” What is life without experiences? They enrich our worlds and make them more beautiful.
- Relying on too much intuition can be dangerous. This one is important for me–I use my intuition all the time to try to read into the future. I did this in the past because I was scared of the unknown–relying on my intuition and creating a future from that intuition was a way for me to try to control my life in a world where there are so many uncertainties. Now, even as I become more comfortable with the prospect of an unknown future, I still find myself doing this as a comfortable reflex. THAT SAID, it just doesn’t work and usually ends up doing more harm than good. Trust your gut, do what feels right, and pay attention to those unexplainable feelings because they probably mean something…but sometimes it’s best to tuck those intuitions into the back of your mind for safe keeping and just live.
- On a similar note, live in the present and be thankful for what you have. There’s a difference between planning for the future and living in it.
- Traveling is more accessible to the average Joe than most people realize. Unless you’re an average Joe who wants to consistently travel in luxury. Then traveling is probably going to be pretty inaccessible for you. I never realized how cheap traveling could be until I lived abroad and was surrounded by people who just…well…wanted to travel. Of course it costs money to go places and requires planning, but if you really want to travel, there are tons of options (like staying in hostels instead of hotels, utilizing couch surfing, and flying budget airlines) that make seeing the world possible on a shoestring budget. I only managed to go to Europe for two weeks from Thailand after living off of a Thai salary for five months (1USD=35THB) because I couch surfed with friends and friends of friends the whole time, found a mega cheap flight, and spent money very sparingly while there.
- You and only you are responsible for your own happiness. That said, allow people to support you and cheer you on along the way. The people we come across in this life make it all the more enriching.
- You don’t have to follow every piece of advice given to you. I’ve spent a large portion of my life taking most advice too seriously–because I valued that friendship, admired that person, what have you. I’ve recently come to realize that while yes, advice is supposed to be helpful, everyone sees the world differently and has different values. What is applicable to the advice-giver might not be applicable to me. It’s always a good thing to consider advice–but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow it.
- TAKE TIME TO JUST BE. Even though I do yoga daily and consider myself a pretty mindful person, I’ve discovered in the past few months that I’m, in fact, pretty terrible at this. However, even taking five minutes out of one’s day to just practice breathing can make all the difference in the world.
Have you learned any valuable lessons in the past year?