This August will be the first time in (almost) my entire life that I haven’t found myself in the stationary aisle of Staples picking out notebooks and pens for a new school year. I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t a student, and now, what seems like all of a sudden, I’m being forced to change the way I define myself.
We spend so much of our young lives wanting to be finished with school, to not find ourselves in a familiar classroom come September. But now that that is a reality for me, I’m not sure what comes next. Today, I’m going to indulge myself though – for your benefit of course. I’m going to tell you the five (non-textbook) lessons I’ve learned from 16 years of school.
Grades aren’t the most important thing
Or at least, they’re not the only thing. What have you learned so far from all these years in school? And I don’t mean who was President in 1943 or what the Pythagorean Theorem is (because I certainly don’t remember half of what I learned in math after the 6th grade, and you can easily Google every President the United States has ever elected). I mean the life lessons, the things that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
What did your 2nd grade teacher tell you that you’ll never forget? What did the green light in The Great Gatsby teach you about your life? How did you change from that terrifying first day of kindergarten to now? That’s the most important thing.
It’s not always going to be easy or fair
That first time a boy pulled your hair on the playground and got away with it? Well, that’s one of the biggest lessons you’ll ever learn in school – because life doesn’t get any easier after elementary school, and what’s fair isn’t always what happens.
It’s what you do with those experiences that matters – sure, the little boy who pulled your hair isn’t bestowing any great life lessons on you at the time, and you’re probably not a better person for it (screw that idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger), but you’re going to encounter much worse later. Like a girl stealing your report that you spent weeks perfecting, and using it to get the job you wanted. Now that’s not fair, but it’ll teach you who to trust, and that you have to work that much harder to get what you want in life because not everyone is going to play by the rules.
Take a mental health day once in a while
I’ll be real – this wasn’t ever really anything I ever struggled with. My mom made sure of that by waking me up at 6am on a Tuesday and announcing that instead of spending the day reciting lines from a Shakespeare poem, I’d be exploring Washington DC and seeing the cherry blossoms with her. And let me just tell you now – sometimes, those days “off” were so much more educational than class would have been.
I’m not saying classes and homework and school aren’t important – of course they are – but sometimes, a day to recharge is more important.
The really important classes are taught outside of class
I mean really, who hasn’t wished that their school offered a class in keeping a budget or nailing an interview? I know I did…several times.
You might night be able to get credit for it, but there are classes, at least in college. Most universities have a careers department where they’ll help you write a resume, teach you how to get and nail interviews, and even practice with you when you land a meeting for the perfect job. Departments like this are the most worthwhile part of that $15,000-a-semester tuition you’re paying, so don’t waste them!
You’re going to miss it when it’s over
All that structure – the knowing what comes next, and where you have to be each day – yeah it sucks sometimes, but you’re going to miss it when you don’t have it anymore. Don’t hate it or rebel against it too much now because when it’s over, you’ll need to remember what it was like.