“clink, clink, clink”
The buckle on my boot rattles as I anxiously squirm around in the blue fold up chair I’m sitting in. I tap my fingers against the chipboard slab of wood smaller than a piece of paper that’s supposed to suffice for a desk.
My professor is at the front of the lecture hall explaining how to use a Scantron like we haven’t all been in school for the majority of our lives by now.
I’m wishing he would just pass the exam out so I could finish it and go back to bed.
I look around me at the other students waiting to take the exam. Hope these chumps are as prepared as I am.
It’s my first college exam, Intro to Telecommunciations. I’ve attended every lecture, done all the homework, and I’m ready. Did I study? Nope. But did I study in High School? Nope. Did I get good grades? Yep. So why would I need to study in college? Just gimme the dang exam so I can leave.
Finally, the TA starts to pass out the exams. I get mine and read the first question.
Wait a minute.
Am I in the right class?
My professor never talked about this. What’s going on, here? Did I miss something? Frustrated, I take my best guess and move on. Much to my chagrin, over half of the questions are completely foreign to me.
I finish the exam to the best of my abilities and turn it in, horrified.
I’ve never failed anything in my life and I’m pretty sure I just failed that exam. What happened? What went wrong? Did I unknowingly miss the class where he talked about all of this stuff? Did I suddenly become bad at life?
Back at my dorm room, I feverishly look through my notes trying to figure out what went wrong. I come across my course syllabus only to discover I had missed one key thing. I guess I had bought that $150 book for a reason. I had failed to open it all semester because never once did the professor mention reading it. I figured it was just some cruel prank to cheat me out of a decent chunk of cash.
But there it was right on the syllabus. Every week after class, we were supposed to read a new chapter in the book. Finally opening the book, all of the answers I had wracked my brain to figure out glared at me from the pages.
All this to say…this experience taught me the importance of studying. Not only in school, but every single day. Every opportunity is a chance to learn something new. Whether it’s a good experience, a bad experience, a TV show you watch, a book you read, a blog post (ahem) or anything else….you can always glean some sort of information that will improve your life.
Lessons from Life
Bad things happen. Things go wrong, plans get changed, expectations are shattered. That’s how life works. It’s unavoidable.
But for some reason, we always think we can stop bad things from happening by just…not doing anything about it…or by ignoring it.
What if, instead of avoiding bad experiences or ignoring them, we faced them head on and turned them into an opportunity to learn something new? If you’re learning something, then you went through it for a reason.
This is incredibly hard to do when you’re going through a tough experience but if we can look back and realize that we learned something, we’ll begin to stop regretting our mistakes and start learning from them so that next time, we won’t make the same ones.
The same year that I realized I was going to have to do a little bit of studying in college, I started dating someone for the first time. When the relationship came to an end, things didn’t go so great. I was heartbroken for the first time and it seemed to last forever. For years after that, I would constantly think about and talk about how much I regretted that relationship.
After a while, I started to realize that, while it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, I had learned a lot from that relationship and if I hadn’t experienced it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And dang it, I like who I am today! So you know what…if I had to have a crappy break-up and be heartbroken for a while to get to where I am now, then I’m glad I did it. I don’t regret any part of it and I really did learn a ton about myself and relationships in general so I’m glad things happened the way they did.
Look back at your experiences, whether they’re positive or negative and instead of focusing on how you felt at the time, focus on what you learned. You’ll soon realize that you’re better for it.
When I graduated from college, I was SO excited to never have to study again. Visions of all the movies and TV shows I was going to mindlessly consume filled my brain. No more reading informational books and highlighting pages. No more researching topics online, spending hours in the library, or writing papers. NO MORE PENCILS NO MORE BOOKS NO MORE TEACHERS DIRTY LOOKS. AMIRITE?!
A couple weeks of nothing and I quickly realized I didn’t know how to not be a student.
I felt useless and like I was wasting my time. Of course, I soon got over it and ended up spending most of my nights after work in a stupor on my couch surfing through Netflix, but once I got over that phase, I realized that you never really stop being a student.
I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, every moment is an opportunity to learn something. Don’t stop trying to learn new things just because you don’t have to. Take the time to learn from everyday life.
- Try to do something a new way.
- See if you can make your everyday routine more efficient.
- Try to recreate your favorite dish from a restaurant.
- Teach yourself how to make beauty products you normally buy like I did when I made my own chapstick.
- Read a book about a topic that interests you. When you’re done, think about what you’ve learned and maybe even write it down like I did when I read Lean Body Fat Wallet.
- Try a new activity and once you’ve done that, regardless of whether you like it or not, think about what you’ve learned from that. Like I did when I tried Crossfit (obviously I totally liked that….)
You can learn something from literally anything. You don’t have to just sit down and read a book. Take a look at what’s around you and you’ll quickly see that the world is a classroom! (This is getting cheesy, isn’t it?)
One of the best ways to learn from your experiences is to take the time to reflect on them. Most of the time we’re so busy we never take the time to stop and think about our experiences, we just move onto the next one.
Set aside some time in your day (week? month?) to reflect back on your experiences and think about what you’ve learned from them. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could even write it down! If you’re feeling SUPER ambitious…you could even start a blog! I mean, I did it…so why shouldn’t you.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to learn from something by not taking the time to process. I am definitely a HUGE culprit of this. Sometimes I’m so obsessed with the newest/best thing and so impatient to move forward that I forget (or refuse) to look back at where I’m coming from.
Don’t do that! Let’s agree to take some time to reflect on our experiences so we can glean the most information from them.
Learn from everything. Learn often. And take the time to consider what you’ve learned.
I spend a lot of time trying to learn new things and to turn every experience into a learning opportunity, which is why I decided to make one of the core values of this blog STUDY. I intend to write a ton of posts about all the things I learn so that you can learn them as well!
Let’s learn together, okay?
What’s one experience from your past that you realize helped you learn an important lesson even though it sucked at the time? Let me know in the comments!