A radical idea for those of us who have always striven to do our absolute best in school, who always felt like they had to be on top, and who always felt pressure that school is the most important thing to your life: perhaps, there’s more to life than school.
It sounds obvious. Of course there’s more to life than school. You have family and perhaps religion or a sport, or any other activities. But, for many of us, we’ve taken the idea of school and made it into the biggest aspect of our lives, and we stress about it constantly.
Coming from a college preparatory school, grades, extracurriculars, and college admission are constantly on our minds and giving us stress. Grades used to be the most important thing to me – if I got a low grade (low being a B or below) on anything, I would cry. Of course, going to a competitive high school and taking various challenging courses taught me that I need to be content with some lower grades, but I still have set the highest possible standard for myself in terms of overall grades.
However, recently there has been a shift in my attitude towards school. I guess I just realized that there really is more to life than school; that school is merely one of the things I’m doing to develop as a person. Radical, right? Previously, school was everything to me. I saw school as my life, and what I was doing with it. And, for many of us that is the case. But, a few things occurred in my life that led me to realize that it’s only one aspect of it.
First, I took a trip to my home town, Flagstaff. There, I rediscovered a sense of adventure that I’d lost in my childhood. I stumbled down a hill, lost my hat in the street and ran after it, went to a music store with my friend and stayed till it closed, walked around downtown with no sense of purpose of where to go, hunted for a coffee shop, and wandered with the only goal to be experiences. It was absolutely liberating. I cannot explain the feeling, and looking back I realize how much of a tragedy it is that I hadn’t had that feeling in so long.
The second thing that helped me realize there’s more to life than school is a program I recently became involved in, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. This program takes place at my local University’s Business college, and it helps students like me develop and learn to run their own business. Of course, I already have ALT largely in place, but the program has a lot to offer and I’ve already learned a great deal from it. YEA has shown me that I am a business owner, and I need to own that. ALT is my life’s work and my livelihood, and I previously haven’t acknowledged that. ALT isn’t just some side project, which I’ve been treating it as, prioritizing school over it time and time again; rather, it is my job. I need to take it seriously, not like some hobby, in order for others to take it seriously as well.
So, my focus has shifted. I’m now more focused on experiences and building my business. I have a renewed passion for life, now that my success and my person is no longer being self-defined by a grade or an understanding of a class. Once I distanced myself from that notion, I felt immediately liberated and much more content with myself.
How does this manifest in my daily life? Well, I’m finding more and more time to dedicate to ALT, and I’m realizing that I don’t really need to spend quite so much time and energy on my schoolwork. Of course, I’m still going to keep up with all of my coursework and strive to get what I define to be good grades for myself, but it’s more my attitude that has changed towards it. I’m willing to do things I wouldn’t previously, like go to bed and do some homework in the morning, find times to get homework done during the day so I don’t have to worry about it as much after school, etc. In a nutshell, I’ve learned to let go a bit. I’ve let go of the notion that I always need to know exactly what’s going on in every class, and I’ve let go of the notion that I am failing if I don’t completely understand a given topic. With this shift, I’ve also been more willing to seek out help, which is an interesting observation. I don’t feel the need to figure everything out on my own; my nature is becoming more collaborative and community-based.
Perhaps some of this stuff is just coming with maturity of age and refinement of thought. But, I am in tune with these shifts and I’m embracing them. It’s uncharted territory for me, and I’m excited to see where it’s going to take me.