Over the years, I have slowly come to the conclusion that being a student can mean two things. You can either decide to be a student of academia, or you can choose to be a student of life. If you go the academia route, your papers and exams might be more important than social outings. If you are a student of life, then you probably say yes more than you say no and there’s a good chance you have learned way more from your mistakes than in any classroom. Neither one of these is better than the other. They’re just different.
I am a student, just maybe not by the same definition as others are. I think that life can make me a better person than exams can, and I think knowing I can be strong when faced with a bad situation is more important than knowing I can write a 12-page paper in one night. I think that knowing yourself, your limits, your faults, and your strengths can’t be taught in a classroom, but I do understand that a lot of other things can. That’s the thing about being a student, the lines are blurred and the boundaries are pretty non-existent.
You can choose to learn about one thing or everything, or you can choose to read what you want to know or go out and face what you want to know. Please don’t get me wrong – I love class. I thoroughly enjoy learning and I especially love knowing that the things I learn while in university are things I probably otherwise wouldn’t have. But, at the end of it all, when I finally graduate, I probably won’t remember the institutional criteria of the public sphere or the central features of a political economic perspective.
I promise you I will remember the feeling of defeat, and the feeling of knowing I can pick myself back up again. I will remember every single night that didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, and that’s a lesson in it’s own. I will remember every single minute spent doing nothing in particular but all those minutes somehow got me to where I am right now. And where I am right now… well, I don’t think it could get any better.
Being a student can pull you in a hundred different directions and it can stress you out. I can guarantee the things you worry about when you’re a student, you will not even remember in two years. You can’t lose sight of the things that matter, and I mean the things that really fucking matter. I may not have an exceptional transcript and I may not be on a first name basis with my profs, but I love my life and I am certain that I can do whatever I want and make it through whatever gets tossed in my face. At one point, the things you put on paper stop mattering and the way you conduct yourself does.