Ah, reflection posts, my favorite. I really enjoy writing blogs like this one since it feels like journaling, but in a book that others can read too. (Also, Verrel and Khal are in absolute God mode right now and I have to catch up🙃)
To say that the Dvij of 2020 and the current-day me are different would be an understatement. Sure, we share a lot in common. We’re both trying to figure out what this life is about, and how to best live it. We both don’t have those answers. And we both love staring into the night sky to try finding them. That said, in the 2-year gap that separates us, a range of experiences have taught me lessons that I wish 18-year old me would’ve known before coming to university. Here are 5 of those lessons, in no particular order. Enjoy!
1. Adulting is tougher than it looks.
Cooking, paying bills, grocery shopping – the whole thing. It seems so trivial but man, it’s harder than it looks. Watching my parents handle this whole adulting thing so easily had me convinced that it’s no big deal, but boy did it take some getting used to. Whether it’s remembering to pay my phone bill on time, motivating myself to meal prep for the coming week, or even getting the best discounts at the supermarket, being an adult takes real effort. The trade-off? I’m now more independent, self-sufficient, and self-confident than I ever was living at home. So don’t fear or shy away from adulting. It’s tough and at times boring. But it’s also one of the best drivers of personal growth out there.
2. You can learn as much outside the classroom as inside.
Ok, so this isn’t an excuse to go out every night and shrug off your classes. BUT (and in my opinion, a big but) there is so much to learn about yourself and this world outside the confines of the classroom. I remember pushing myself to go for as many social events as I could freshman year, when I didn’t know anyone. The result? I made more friends, but equally as important, developed social skills the serve me even till this day. From learning to make small talk to projecting strong body language, I gained soft skills that will serve me hugely, whether in my relationships with others or in avenues at the workplace. To put it simply, street smarts just can’t be developed in the classroom. So go out, experience your student life fully, make mistakes and you will grow so much more than if you keep your university years limited to the classroom.
3. Don’t try to do everything by yourself. It’s okay to ask for help.
If you’re someone like I was (am?) it’s so easy to want to figure out your life completely by yourself. Almost like a show of independence to both yourself and others around you. I learnt, though, that leaning on loved ones, friends and family just makes life so much easier and more manageable. Instead of bottling up, talking about things that bothered me most with my best friends, parents and host family made mountains of problems far less intimidating and threatening. Your friends and family will often have resources and solutions that you wouldn’t even have thought of. And here’s the important thing. They’re your loved ones for a reason – they’ll almost always want to help. Isn’t that the beauty of human relationships – being able to fall on each other when we need it most?
4. Take advantage of crazy opportunities. You never know if they’ll come again.
I’ll give you a couple of examples of how this looked for me. Halfway through my second year, I managed to get a grant to cover all expenses for a week-long stay at a Buddhist temple in Michigan. If you told an 18-year old me that I’d be living the monastic life at a Buddhist temple for a week, I doubt he’d believe you. The experience was absolutely amazing, and deepened my relationship with Zen Buddhism and its philosophies. But deciding to apply for the grant was a leap of faith, since I had no idea what to expect. I just trusted my gut instinct that the experience would be great for me. Similarly, I received another grant to explore graduate schools this summer. This meant I got to travel up and down the East Coast pretty much every weekend. For me, this was a dream come true, but my friends were confused why I’d exhaust myself with all that running around. In my mind, the answer was clear – I wanted to explore as much as I could while I was still able to.
5. If you can, keep your past relationships alive. It feels great.
I’m very close with my parents, so there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be in consistent contact with them upon coming to the States. That said, I was far less certain about being in touch with my high school friends. Somehow, though, we’ve managed to make it work. If you’re lucky enough to have had friends whom you could text whenever and wherever, just reach out and say hi every now and then! Getting a random text or call from a high school friends literally makes my day. It’s so nice to know that despite the wildly different directions we’ve all gone in, we’re still connected and important to each other. It’s one of the reasons running this blog feels so great – it keeps me connected to two of my best friends. And that’s something I can’t put a price on.
And that’ll be all from me today! Keep an eye out for more posts coming my way soon, as I aim to overtake Verrel’s insane flurry of posts. In all seriousness, though, thank you for reading, and for allowing me to write about the things I love!