Life Lessons

There are a few things that I wish were taught in school. But alas, I guess they will always really be best taught by experience. Here are the few that I have found most difficult to learn but also the most helpful to eventually discover.

No one can make you happy. It's not like the Disney movies. There is no happily ever after in relationships. There's no Snow White - The Sequel when she argues with Prince Charming over whose turn it is to do the dishes (although I guess they could just employ one of the seven dwarves?). I'm not saying being in a relationship isn't great, but I think my romantic relationships became much higher in quality when I realized that the purpose of having a partner isn't just to make me happy. That's no one's job but my own. How many times have you had a conversation with a friend (or seen one on TV) where they say something like, "I'm just not happy anymore," or "He just doesn't make me happy." It depends on the circumstances of course, but I think that this feeling of not being fulfilled by someone else is a red herring. It took a lot of growing up for me to realize that until I was ready to face my own shortcomings, being in a good relationship was nearly impossible.

It takes at least a year to get used to anything new. I used to think a year was such a long time (ha!). My first year in England was incredibly hard. But it might have had less turmoil if I had been easier on myself and just tried to enjoy it. I was a mess, and I really wanted to find a man to make me happier (see life lesson one again). As my aunt used to say, you need to be somewhere for all four seasons before you know if you really like something. This can apply to places, jobs, even people. And it doesn't work to look for someone or something else to make you happy. Relax a bit and try to enjoy the ride when something is new – even if it's a little bumpy.

It takes at least three years to get good at a job. I really really wish someone had told me this a long time ago. When I was a journalist it was so easy to hop around to different beats every year or two years, and so that's exactly what I did. And when things got frustrating, I always wanted to jump ship. I'm not saying there isn't a time to leave a job. Tough is OK, crying in the bathrooms on a very frequent basis is not. That's when it's time to look for another job (important life lesson as well). In those cases, it is also a good time to examine why it might not the right job for you and realize that no amount of difficulty is worth it.

But generally, sticking things out can be a good thing. At most jobs, it takes time to prove your worth and win responsibility. Everyone knows the expression 'Rome wasn't built in a day' but no one really believes it. Our society is geared towards instant gratification, but the truth is that you have to work at something to get good at it. Staying with a job for a while also gives you time to sort out what you like to do and are good at within an organization and the direction you want to take when you're ready for your next position (either within the company or somewhere else).

People are different. I know this sounds like, yeah, duh, people are different. But one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise with the way our society often dictates how people conduct their lives. "Why aren't you married, why don't you have kids?" are questions that plague those who make other choices. From the clothes we wear to the jobs we do, those who try to be different are often stigmatized. But all you have to do is look at your own friends to see how different people are. Even within groups that you'd expect to be somewhat homogeneous not everyone likes to do the same social activities, watch the same movies or get up at the same time in the morning. But we're always comparing ourselves with others. Maybe admitting that we're all a little different to begin with would give us the freedom to be OK with the choices we'd like to make.

Does anyone else have important life lessons they learned 'on the job', so to speak?

No comments

Back to Top