TL;DR – My recommendations for students in tertiary education (and even those still at high school).
1: Write down and save what you value in your life and what you want to do with your life based on those things – aim big, as Shia LaBeouf would say “Nothing is impossible” and all that cheese.
2: Be as social as possible and network as much as you can – The social skills you need to make and the friendships you build will define how you end up living your life
So University will be back in business within a couple weeks. Looking back on that time now as I have finished my time in education (for now), I have two crucial pieces of advice for those of you continuing or just starting your studies.
Firstly: WRITE DOWN WHAT HOLDS VALUE IN YOUR LIFE and what you truly want to achieve
I believe that physically writing these steps down in a journal or typing them out and saving them somewhere safe and accessible on a computer, is cathartic and will provide a guide to come back to instead of just ‘thinking about it’. I also understand that the university years are very defining stages of personal development and what you value may change from the first year to the 3rd, 4th, 5th and so on. Having a documented record of how your personal values and views change over the years is (IMHO) a cool reflective exercise.
So how do you do this?
As a template, note the following and decide on at least 3 genuine answers to the questions you ask yourself:
‘What inspires you?’
‘What is important to you?’
‘What do you want to do/what contribution would you like to make in the world?’
Be completely honest with yourself. Your contribution to the world doesn’t have to be “save the children, Kony 2012!” It’s absolutely fine if you just want to make as much money as you can or create paintings no one understands but yourself #modernArt – as long as it is your passion.
I will use myself as an example as recently I have had to re-evaluate what I want to achieve and how I want to live out this year.
What Inspires ME?
- Willpower and Drive
- Being Authentic and Virtuous
- Strength of Character
- Walking the Walk – not just running your mouth
What is Important to ME?
- My sense of self, force of will, and beliefs – My Character
- Family and close friends – My Tribe
- Personal growth and desire to always improve/learn more – My Drive
- Self-reliance – My Independence
- Freedom of speech – My Social Liberty
What Contribution would I like to make in the world?
- Be a strong role model for people that come from a similar background as myself
- Be a Shaman (No not a WoW character or freaky herbal remedies man). I will discuss my interpretation of this word in another post but it basically means – a leader, storyteller, and teacher.
- Being able to protect and provide – to be someone who can give back to my family and tribe, someone that holds and provides value for my community, protecting personal freedoms and libertarian rights, protecting myself and protecting my loved ones.
Once you have these saved away somewhere take time to read them every so often to remind yourself and keep you in check – is what you are doing/learning right now in line with what you want and what is important to you?
Secondly: BE AS SOCIAL AS POSSIBLE
Your ability to get along with friends, employer(s), and future workmates depends highly on your social abilities to interact, joke, and judge people.
This is a piece of advice some people don’t need to hear and that comes as second nature. However we are living in this increasingly technology driven society (which is not a bad thing in general), where social skills and basic human interactions are definitely affected. How many people do you sit next to on public transport that you sense visibly tense up and avert their gaze when you sit next to them? When walking down the street how many people do you make eye contact and smile at that results in them looking down in submission? (not creepily, just as a common friendly gesture. You don’t walk around town death staring everyone do you?!)
In fact this piece of advice is something I could’ve really used myself when going into university. I had my core friend group from high school. I had been the deputy head boy. I played in sports teams and I went to parties. I was ‘normal’… well at least I thought that. I was fine going into university, not needing any new friends (what an asshole). In fact, during the first two years of study, I was in a pretty negative head space and definitely was anti-social. I could blame this on personal stuff going on in my life at the time, health issues and the fact that I had my core friends and was fine with just that. These were just excuses.
I know this will resonate with a few of you. Sometimes you just don’t feel like ‘trying to be everyone’s friend’ or going and putting yourself out there. In fact it can be extremely scary if you do not think highly of yourself. It wasn’t until my third year of uni that I really started expanding my friend circle and taking as many possible opportunities to meet people and network as possible.
But back to my point.
Be as social as possible. What I mean by this is take all of the opportunities to meet and connect with new people, to make small talk with strangers and build up your personal social skills as they are easily more important than your degree in regards to your quality of life.
Social skills just like physical skills need to be practised to be mastered.
I am in no way saying that I am a master at social skills, not at all. In fact I still find myself being pretty damn autistic sometimes. You don’t need to be a linguistics genius to be able to look people in the eye when talking to them, to hold basic small talk with a fellow public transport user or to cross a room and introduce yourself to a complete stranger.
On top of training these social skills, you will do this crazy thing people call ‘Networking’. Basically, meeting people and forming new relationships with people in the same field or interests and projects as you. This is probably the biggest thing you can get out of your time at uni, as you have the possibility (if you put yourself out there) to meet multitudes of people and form connections that can help further your career – as cliché as it is, the saying “It’s all about who you know not what you know” rings true.
I hope this was able to provide ‘value’
P.S. as a third recommendation, be BOLD. In whatever you do, no one remembers the person who didn’t speak out or just scraped by. To leave you with another cliché quote
“Fortune favours the BOLD”- Old Latin Idiom
P.P.S click the Shia LaBeouf link #justdoit