Graduation Thoughts (#4): Lessons Learned

Reflecting continues.

One of the things I realized as I was writing the last post, but decided deserved a post all its own, was that over my life there have been three key lessons I have learned that have affected my personality, decisions, and life in big ways. Its not that other things haven't had an affect, or changed me; of course they have. These three particular lessons, however, stand out for some reason. Realizing this, and thinking about it because of graduation, I thought I would share them.

Lesson #1: Remember the good, forget the bad.

I don't remember how old I was, I don't remember what we were fighting about, but my brother and I, as is typical of brothers I think, were fighting about something. My Mom, as is typical of mothers, caught us, stopped us, and tried to figure out what was going on. As reasons for our fight we brought up stuff that the other had done weeks or months before. Now, I know thats all rather vague, but I don't remember any details, so I am sorry. What I do remember, clear as day, was my Mom's response to us. She said "You are going to grow up to be pretty bitter people if you keep remember all the bad stuff people do so long ago."

Well, I didn't want to grow up to be bitter, so I decided to try to focus on the good and not the bad. I am not always successful, as I'm sure those close to me can tell you, but its an aim in life. It has helped me to forgive and to show grace and compassion. As difficult as it can be, I know its the right way to go.

Lesson #2: Learn how you learn best.

Back when I was in elementary school, I had an amazing principal, who I saw a lot of because I was in the 'gifted' class, which she taught. As I was approaching my graduation from elementary, in grade 7, I remember her talking to me about preparing for university (yes, I know, very early for that!). She told me that I needed to know how to learn, to figure out how I learned and get better at it. She talked about how lots of high school programs don't teach students how to learn, but merely get them to memorize and recite, and how that doesn't prepare a person for university at all. I think she recommended I look into things like IB programs, once I was old enough (though I am unclear about that part). In any case, her talk about learning how to learn stuck. I realized she was right. Schools don't usually teach students how to learn; it is almost assumed that all students have that skill already or, if they don't, that it will somehow come naturally over the years of schooling. I think that most of the time that is nonsense.

So I did try to learn how I learn, and I think I figured it out pretty well (though it took some time). There were lots of little tricks I learned. Like the fact that normally I can only read or write serious material for about an 45-60 minutes before I need a break, but, at the same time, that I had to be disciplined about my breaks and that sometimes I could get 'in the zone' and go for much longer. I learned that certain activities were aided by minor distractions, like the right kind of music (usually something in another language, so I can't understand it, but its still faster than the normal acoustic mix). I found out that I need to do most things twice; once to get a general overview, and once more to get all the details, and so I had to plan my study time to fit that in. This especially applied in reading, though other areas as well (and it took me a long time to apply this to my writing, but I did and it helped). I learned that I needed to lay out my schedule of assignments, so that I could feel the stress of needing to get things done. The right level of stress is key to overcoming my natural bent to procrastination, but ignorance prevents me from maintaining that level of stress when I need it, so scheduling helps overcome that ignorance and create stress (and I know that sounds odd, but note that I said the right level of stress; determining where that level is is one key as well). I learned that my best writing comes out of a lot of reading, combined with time to mull things over, and so I have to start working on my essays a month or more in advance if possible. I could go on; I learned a lot about myself, and all because I decided to be conscious of, and conscientious towards, my own learning processes.

Lesson #3: Live Now.

This is the one I explained in my last post. Life is uncertain: "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:14

As much as we do not like to face up to this fact, it is a reality. If your not living your best, giving your all, offering yourself as a living sacrifice to Christ and having your mind renewed right now, if you are waiting until later to do what is right and good, then something is wrong.

Anyway, some defining moments for me. Graduation makes you think, thats for sure.

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