Exactly a year ago, I packed up my bags, bid farewell to the place I called home the last four years and ventured off to New York (just like so many others) right after graduation. I shuffled back and forth between states and was promoted within two months (a result of countless hours of hard work and dedication).
In a month’s time, I will be venturing off to another country, the place I have always called home: Sri Lanka. When I say it has been one hell of a crazy ride, I am not exaggerating!
It may seem that all is good and merry, and everything is turning out exactly how I would have planned. But, to be honest, it is exactly how I did not plan that has gotten me to where I am today.
I guess there has always been a reason planning has never suited my taste. Not that there is anything wrong with it, per se, but life is full of surprises, and you never know what will be in store.
I do not have an inspirational post-grad story to share, but rather, tiny anecdotes of hope, courage, determination and love that have helped me to understand myself and go after my dreams.
So, here are 10 things I have learned this last year that I hope will give you the encouragement and inspiration to embark on your new adventure:
1. Your education does not stop; it is only beginning.
Regardless of whether you go back to school or not for your MBA or PHD, you will constantly be learning something. Life is about learning and growing the best way you can in order to navigate your life.
The workplace will be all sorts of trial and error. Embrace it and take steps forward as you see fit. As Bill Cosby once said, “Your desire for success should weigh more than your fear of failure.” So, never stop learning. There is always room for improvement.
2. Do not expect for your dream job to come to you.
Dreams and goals are meant not be easy to reach — there’s a reason why they are called dreams. Your first job out of college won’t be fairytale like; your dream job will arrive out of the choices you make.
So, take it step by step and work on it as long as you know it will help you move forward in the direction toward some day achieving your dreams.
3. Creativity is headlining our generation.
By that, I mean creativity is becoming increasingly important in the corporate world as everyone aims to be different and desired. So, be creative the best way you know how.
If you have an idea, play with it and see how you can make it grow. Remember, not everyone will like your ideas — all it takes is one important person to see your vision and help you live it.
4. Think of the big picture, always.
Make choices that will help you paint your big picture. Salary is important, but it is what you can gain in the long run that makes anything worth it.
5. Don’t wait for inspiration; go find it yourself.
We all need to be inspired daily, but inspiration won’t come knocking on your door every morning to get your ass out of bed. Find inspiration for yourself and be surprised by the little places from which you can find and take inspiration.
6. You will befriend many new friends.
Just like your previous chapters, people will come in and out of your life. Accept them, be the type of friend you want to be and open your eyes. Just make the most of it, and create memories. Those memories will help you get through a lot.
7. Things happen, whether in your control or not.
This last year and a half has probably been one of the toughest periods of time for me. It felt that everything that could happen happened all at once, which was very overwhelming.
I learned that no matter what happens, you must face life in the best, most healthy way you know how and take steps to move on in the best way you can. Life goes on — as cliché as it does sound — and whether or not you choose to pick yourself up, the world will keep spinning.
8. Have fun and live in the moment.
Yes, times are tough, and yes, the job market looks as bleak as ever, but take the time to do what you enjoy. Have as much fun as you can living in the moment and appreciate where you are right now. Be present at all times.
9. Be thankful.
You’re alive and you have a choice to go after you dreams. Be thankful that you have every part of your mind, body and soul to live your life and work your way up, regardless of struggles you may meet.
10. Don’t ever grow up.
Now, this does not mean to not take control of your life. When I say “don’t grow up,” I am referring to your inner child, the part of you that is reminiscent of childhood, light and silliness; the part that allows you to run around without a care in the world.
Start embracing your inner child by doing what you want to do and not giving a sh*t about what people think of you. When we let the child in us die, we lose a little bit of hope along the way. So, keep it alive, and embrace it.
Some people will have more obstacles than others, and at times, it may seem as though everyone else has it easy. But, I can assure you that every person has his or her own issues to deal with in some way or another.
The key is to not let anything stop you — anything. It’s all about how you approach it and learn about yourself, the world around you and the life you seek to have. Eventually, everything will be okay.
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