Thinking about growing up and facing the real world can be scary. What have you accomplished so far? Where will you go from here on out? Will you be ready for what's ahead? How do your life experiences define you?
These are some of the things I think about everyday. Over the course of the year I have realized that students may be more prepared for the "adult life" than they think. Sometimes, we develop skills and abilities daily that can benefit us in the long run without even knowing it. Skills outside of the classroom. As life goes on you learn more life lessons, create morals for yourself, and master new talents that will help you along your journey.
1. You learn about your strengths and weaknesses
When it comes to a sport, a job, or any kind of activity, we start to figure out what we're good at and what we aren't good at. While pushing it to the limit can be seen as the only way to go, you start to realize that maybe sometimes you need to limit yourself. Demand challenge but avoid perfection. We should all work hard and continue to look for areas of success, sure, but there are times when it's okay to take a step back and think before you hurt yourself in more ways than one. You eventually become accepting of what you can or can't do and try to see what you can do in other fields. Stay true to yourself...
2. You begin to know how to read people
Outside of what you learn in books, you develop street smarts. They are the experience and wisdom used to deal with the curve balls the world throws at you. It's to be able to survive. You learn how to adapt to your surroundings and avoid conflict. Street smarts can be also applied to being able to understand a person, to communicate with someone the best way possible. You start to notice behaviors, expressions, and certain actions that allow you to know the whole story of a complete stranger. You begin too know what people want to hear and need to hear. It can help with establishing connections in business, friendships, and even on dates.
3. You learn how to be persistent
How did you get your parents to drive you to get ice cream? By asking again and again until they gave in, right? Well for those who got what they wanted that way, you can apply that skill in job interviews. Employers like people who are persistent; always following up, always giving them offers, always saying thank you. It also helps if your first email to your potential future boss gets lost in his/her inbox but they see a couple more from you a week or two later. It reminds them of who you are, what you want, and what you can provide for them. You can be persistent in anything really, to try and try again for a different outcome. But always remember your limits.
4. You become more open-minded
In life we come across people with different views, opinions, skills, and attitudes. Sometimes they can be our friends or our worst enemies. But as we grow up these people come and go, and you learn from past experiences with them. You learn that they all come from different backgrounds and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you don't agree with what they say and do, but that's okay because you're your own person. You learn how to be accepting of others and respect who they are (if their intent is good). For those whose intent is not, you start to understand that they have it rough in life and haven't learned how to express themselves more positively. Sometimes that can only happen if you yourself stay level-headed and don't make any situation worse than it needs to be.
5. You know how to stay positive
Life is full of hurdles, some bigger than others. There can be brick wall on our path preventing you from going forward. You learn though from the bad times how to look on the bright side of a dark world. You realize as life goes on that time is short and you aren't getting any younger moping about something in the past. You move on and prevail. Reality can be horrible, but the faster we accept it and push through, the stronger we become when facing bigger challenges. You become happy with who you are and where you are now.
6. You're prepared for the worst and know how to deal with failure
It's okay to fail. It's a learning opportunity. Get over it. There are crooks and scams that try to take advantage of sheltered, innocent people with little to no experience. While there can a bright side to things, there can always be a downside. Between the lines of anything ranging from a contract, a new job, or deal, something evil may lurk. It will leap out and take you down if you're not ready. From losing your assets to working in a pyramid scheme to being stuck in a place you don't like. In life, when we learn how to read people and become more open-minded, you start to develop a more shrewd and astute mindset. You use logic and reason to read between these lines and separate the good and the bad. If what is bad is inevitable, you learn how to prepare for it. You become ready not to lose everything and assess future situations and pick out bad outcomes before a decision is made right away. It really helps in risk-taking. Learn from the bad times to avoid them more in the future. I recommend a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis and always asking questions.
7. You learn how you can change fate
When you're prepared for the worst, you get to choose how to act ahead of time. It can also be something from choosing sides in a basketball match or having to drop one thing for something else. When you learn about what you can/can't do and what the advantages/disadvantages of a situation can be, it becomes easier to make a choice. Past experiences and beliefs can alter your final choice, but it's how you act in the moment what really matters. What choice is smart and what choice is dumb? You can try new things or stick to what you know. Stay control in your life, act upon any situation and do what makes you happy. But don't act like an idiot.
8. You become innovative
You learn how to be more creative and do things you never know you could do. It can be anything from telling an original joke, using something like a coaster to make a wobbly chair more sturdy, or creating the ultimate meal. When we learn about how precious time is, we can use innovation to better our schedules too. If you're in an area applying for one job, look around close by to see what else you can find. Do you have a quick interview at a place next to the local laundromat? Take your dirty clothes with you and run a cycle before you sit down with the employer. You may not come up with a groundbreaking idea, but even the simplest of innovation can make life all the more easier.
9. You learn how to be self-motivated
Staying positive is great, but sometimes it's the worst of times that can light a fire under your ass. How others treat you should never have a negative impact on your decision making and actions. They can be used, however, as an experience. To push you to do better. If they say you can't do it, show them you can. If you can't do it, it's okay. Be happy you tried something new and learned from it. Be happy you told yourself you can do it.
10. You learn how to be more independent.
There are times where we are alone. And sometimes, that can be a good thing. You learn in life as you go along how to be independent from having someone hold your hand all the time. It's when you have a positive, open-mind. It's when you understand your limits. It's when you know how to be prepared for life's outcomes and deal with change. It's also when you are keeping a balance between the good and the bad and not letting real life consume you. It's a time to yourself to think.
To be independent is to be free in making life choices. You learn to how to thrive when no one is around to help you. You become able to seek opportunity for yourself. You also know however, you aren't ever completely alone. There can be family, friends, and established connections through your renowned "people reading abilities" that can help guide you. You can even learn a lesson from them too! The working world won't be all that scary if you learn how to understand it and know how to find success in it. Take advantage of what life throws at you and use your resources to make the best of it.