Important Life Lessons I've Learned From My Students

Important Life Lessons I've Learned From My Students

Sometimes the greatest lessons come from the most unlikely places.
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As long as I can remember, I've always loved children. It's something about their inquisitive natures and childlike demeanors...whatever it may be, I've created a career out of it. I started coaching kids in gymnastics when I was in high school, I've worked at summer camps, and now I'm a residential counselor at a psychiatric residential treatment facility. In each of these jobs, I have had the responsibility of teaching kids, supporting their growth, engaging in their treatment, and ultimately fostering their success. I have been the one in the leadership role, yet I often find myself wondering whether I'm the one doing the teaching, or the one being taught.

Kids are unaware of the impact they have on those around them. The inherent knowledge they possess combined with their unfiltered forms of expression exude honesty, creativity, and curiosity. Over the years, I have tried to teach my children about life; yet they have been the ones to teach me what life is truly about.

Here's some of the most important life lessons the children I work with have taught me:

Imagination has no age.

It never ceases to astound me the creative imaginations the children I work with possess. No idea is too far-fetched, nothing is impossible, and their dreams are riddled with innovation and magic. My students have taught me that you never get too old to imagine; that whatever age you are, you still have that piece of magic in you that allows you to dream big and believe in the impossible.

We all have an inner child.

The older we get, the more life becomes about work, responsibilities, and everything dull and dry in between. We need to remember to take time out to enjoy life, to find those things that remind us of our childhood days. You're never too old to play. My students have taught me that no matter what life throws at me next, I'll always have that inner child in my heart.

Feedback is critical to success.

Criticism and feedback are often difficult to give and take, but it's important to realize that the people around us can help foster our growth. We get so caught up in our mindset that it becomes difficult to break free of the ways in which we think. In order to support someone and help them achieve their full potential, it's necessary to provide feedback. Just as important, we must receive feedback and refrain from getting angry and frustrated about it. Feedback is a further opportunity for growth.

Live for the moment; for the little joys in life.

Children have a hard time thinking ahead and seeing the bigger picture. Instead, they live moment by moment--they feel and express emotions based on their current situation. As adults, our minds are full of tons of different feelings, anxieties, plans and thoughts. It's easy for us to forget about the moment we are in due to our thoughts about an upcoming situation. Kids teach us to slow down and really focus on the moment we are in.

Love unconditionally.

The older we get the more we learn that loving can be hard. Love hurts. Watching the way children love those around them is one of the most inspiring things I have ever experienced. They teach us to forgive each other, that love is one of the most important things.

Be honest.

Children have no filter. 75% of the time, their remarks can make a situation go downhill. However, they teach us to be unafraid of how we feel and be genuine with our thoughts and feelings.

We condition ourselves to divide.

Children don't know about religion, race, and culture. They learn from observing those around them. We need to learn to be understanding of others and stop forcing divides based on personal aspects of each person's identity. Children teach us that we all are equal; none of us are better or worse than the other. Children remind us that in the end, we are all human.

Sometimes the greatest lessons come from the most unlikely places.

I never expected to learn as much as I have through my experiences working with my students. The most important lesson I've learned? You're never too old to stop learning.

Cover Image Credit: huffpost.com

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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14 Things You Relate To If You Grew Up WithOUT Any Cousins

*GASP* "What, you really don't have any cousins?"

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It always shocks every person who hears me state that I do not have any cousins. For some reason, this is just hard for people to really believe when it's actually not something impossible. I think we are all just so used to large families that it sounds weird when people say that they have no cousins. Yet, it is definitely a potential reality, and actually impossible if each of your parents is the only child to your grandparents.

Here are 14 things that you can relate to if you grew up without any cousins.

1. Nobody believes you when you say that you don't have any cousins

I'm serious, for the tenth time.

2. Your grandparents spoil you

With no other grandchildren to worry about, it's pretty easy to do.

3. You don't understand when people say that cousins are your first best friends

My best friend was my first best friend.

4. You and your siblings are always the youngest people at family events

This was simultaneosuly a good thing and a bad thing.

5. You get all of the attention at holidays

Since you're the youngest one around, then distant relatives are always doting over you.

6. Everything you do is deemed awesome by your extended family because there is nobody to compete with

It's much easier to be praised when you aren't being compared to someone similar to your age.

7. You don't know how to hold babies

You're never around them so why would you?

8. Family photos are pretty easy to coordinate

The less people, the easier.

9. Other family members spoil you just because 

Afterall, you are the only kid around...

10. The family will make comments regarding the potential for you to have a cousin as a justification for why they aren't doing something for you

When you hear, "I can't buy you too much because someday your aunt is going to have kids and I will have to do the same for them" you cringe and just had to know that all of the attention wouldn't last forever.

11. Birthdays are always a big deal

A perk of not having very many to remember.

12. If your parents' siblings own pets, then you refer to the animal as your cousin

Cat cousins, dog cousins, lizard cousins, and fish cousins can be pretty cool, actually.

13. Sometimes you dream of marrying into a big family

This is to ensure that your kids do grow up with cousins.

14. You appreciate the closeness of your tight-knit fam

Maybe the only thing you would miss if you had a big family is the opportunity to develop such close bonds with the few relatives that you do have.

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