I’m done with university. Well, I still have to get my results, but assuming I pass all my subjects (all limbs crossed), that’s it. The end of four years of education. And if someone asked me to describe these four years in one word, I’d probably go with “educational”. But I’d be talking about a completely different kind of education, the kind that doesn’t come from lectures or books or even teachers. The kind that you learn yourself, as a consequence of things that happen around you.
When I left for Singapore four years ago, I was a bright-eyed young gal looking forward to a life of freedom. Freedom from restrictions, from the monotony of school life, from authority. It gave me an enormous thrill to think that I’d be able to live my life without anybody telling me how to live it. No more getting told what to do, what to eat, when to sleep, how to study. I could do everything as I wanted to, and it was a freedom I cherished.
I’ve spent a wonderful four years at college. I’ve done what I wanted to do, eaten what I wanted to eat, slept as I pleased (pulled all-nighters that would never have been possible at home), studied the way I chose to. But looking back, I can say without a doubt that none of those things are the things I’m most happy about at the end of four years away from home. Sure, they’re things I couldn’t have done at home, and sure, they brought me and my friends countless hours of pleasure.
But the thing I’m most pleased and satisfied with is how much I’ve learned over this duration. And I don’t mean bookish knowledge by any means. I’ve studied many subjects in my time at university, and many of them have had overlapping information, but I’m pretty sure that a few months down the line, I won’t remember most of it. In fact, my poor brain has to take a few minutes to even remember what subjects I did in my first year. I did well in school, and I did reasonably well in university too, but my retention level is pathetic.
So what I’ve “learned” has nothing to do with studies. No, it’s life lessons. And I know it sounds corny, but I feel like I’ve grown so much in these years. I’ve learned about other people, yes, but I’ve learned the most about myself. It all sounds abstract and vague, but I mean it when I say that I know myself much better now than I did four years ago. And I don’t mean trivial stuff like what movies I like or what kind of music I enjoy. That sort of stuff is subject to change. In my case, it changes so often, there’s never a right answer.
What I do mean is that I’ve learned to stop and think. About everything. To make the best of a situation, to consciously focus on the positive side of things, to let things go. To not judge, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to keep myself happy. I’ve learned to learn. From events in my life, from events in others’. I’ve learned that a little bit of introspection does a great deal of help. I’ve learned that it never hurts to take some time off to think about something and reach a logical conclusion. I’ve learned that it always pays to take the higher road. That being the bigger person doesn’t mean you’re letting yourself get pushed around. That you can stand your ground and still be selfless. That it’s always possible to find the good in someone. Most people prefer the tortured, angsty superhero to the one with a heart of gold, but what makes Superman so much more appealing to me than Batman is that he always chooses to see the best in people. (Way to make a point with a comic book example, huh? *facepalm*)
I know how it sounds. What’s new about all this? This is the kind of stuff you know instinctively, right? Maybe. Maybe some people are born with this knowledge. Maybe they know how to make all the right decisions automatically, to act the right way, to do the right thing. I thought I knew this stuff. I realized through these four years that I didn’t. But I also learned that you can learn this stuff. You learn from experience. The things that happen in your life happen for a reason. And I don’t mean that in a “destiny”/”fate” kind of thing, just that the things that happen to you, good or bad, teach you. You always learn. You don’t have to be in school or college to learn something. You learn things simply by virtue of living life.
“You live, you learn.” Ms Morissette clearly knew her stuff, but it took me these four years to figure out what exactly she was talking about.