As we draw October to a close, it also marks the end of the month when Teachers’ Day is celebrated all over the world. And whether we admit it or not, each of our lives has been touched, one way or another, by all, some, a few, or even just that one teacher you will never forget.
And so as a tribute to the unfailing belief of the good ones, I’ve asked people the best advice they received from their teacher. Whether you’re still in high school, finishing a doctorate, or even out of the academic setting, these life lessons still stand true. And for some of us, we need to be reminded. In whatever season of life you are in, you need to hear these right now.
1. Love yourself first.
To the student: It must be weird hearing this from your classroom teacher; it is another story if you admire this adult speaking to you. There will come a time when high school drama will get the best of you, or college sleepless nights will take a toll on your health. Remember to love yourself first. Don’t just focus on the mind and exhausting all your energy for it. Don’t just focus on the physical either. You have to take care of all the other dimensions of your life – body, mind, heart, soul. Whether its having a falling out with your “best friends” or getting stressed from all the pressure around you, find time to recollect yourself. Check if you’re still healthy in all aspects. What good will your good grades do if you’re not healthy enough to attend your own graduation?
To the adult: To some, loving one’s self means having time for “me.” Whether that’s getting together with some girls for some pampering, or just staying at home playing your favorite video game. Loving yourself can mean different things to different people. A lot of us have figured out a way to cope with stress or to detox from negativity. The idea is to not get carried away with our worries. But also, we should learn to prioritize loving ourselves. We don’t have to wait until we’re fed up to enjoy a relaxing massage. And we definitely don’t have to wait to get physically abused in order to get out of an unhealthy relationship either. Whether its martyrdom, lack of self-respect, or even just plain misinformation. We need to learn that loving ourselves first means having to let go of what may be hurting us.
2. Everything is a learning experience.
To the student: That failing mark you got in Algebra? Learn from it. That embarrassing recitation you were called out for because you weren’t ready? Learn from it. That first place you bagged during the writing contest? Learn from it. Yes, you read it right. Learn even from being the best. Every experience offers us insight about ourselves. Mostly, we discover things we can improve on or change for the better. But don’t let the good times deceive you. Success is a good learning experience as well. You discover your strengths, your hidden talents, and if you’re lucky, how you can be helpful to others. Develop that attitude of openness to what each experience may teach you.
To the adult: At a young age, it is quite the challenge to realize that the hardships we go through teach us something valuable. As an adult, it doesn’t get easier. In theory, its easy to say and even advice other people about it. But when we’re in the middle of that heartbreak, it’s still difficult to see the silver lining. Everybody goes through break-ups, career struggles, familial conflict, anything uncomfortable. Oftentimes, we get hung up on these and just linger on our sorrow. Eventually, we need to find our strength by pushing ourselves. When we know that there is something to learn from every experience, it makes it easier to get back up. Whether its finding the courage to take another step, or even finding another path we can tread. And more importantly, try to avoid making the same mistake. And that’s something the heart finds hard to learn.
3. Look at that which is not being pointed out to you.
To the student: Don’t be sarcastic and not listen to your teacher when they tell you to focus. This is actually a useful skill you can develop. Basically, what it means is to be resourceful. If you can’t find the solution, try a different angle. If you’re analyzing a situation or historical event, look at other factors that are not simply stated. Let your mind explore and find connections. The answers are not always plain and simple, and they are barely pointed out to us – in school and in life.
To the adult: We encounter a lot of things we don’t understand, and most conflicts arise from that. So it becomes essential in relationships – whether its romantic, professional, or familial – that we aim to understand. The Covey’s phrase it as seeking first to understand then to be understood. Conflict cannot be resolved by focusing on the problem either. Sometimes, the issue is merely a symptom of something deeper. And so we have to take the initiative to look beyond what is merely seen, what is being pointed out to us.
4. Live it!
To the student: You may not understand it now, but life isn’t just about your grades in school. They help you a lot, don’t get me wrong. Every society is rooted on the intellectual capabilities of it’s people. But know that it also hinges on the social and emotional intelligence of mankind. How you deal with the bully in school, your interaction with the groupmate who doesn’t do a damn thing, even your loyalty to your family. They all play a part in the future that you are forming for yourself.
And so as much as you are concerned about the results of your upcoming presentation, be cautious of your relationships as well. Choose the circle of friends that will allow you to enjoy life outside the classroom. And vice versa. Just because you are well-invested in your social circles does not mean you can do away with your studies. Learn how to balance, manage, integrate.
To the adult: It’s both so profound and yet simple at the same time. Live it. It could be just one of those clichés that people say just because. But somehow, I came to the realization that life only requires us to live it – not rush it, not escape it; just live it. That means, riding all the ups and downs, the good and bad days. More often than not, we get stuck at everyday routines that we simply go through life and not actually enjoy the time we have. Life has so much to offer! Be passionate about what you do. And if you can’t, then be excellent at it and still pursue your passion. Travel! Maximize those leaves and enjoy your well-earned money. (Of course, be responsible when doing so.) Find the time, energy, and courage to keep extending your comfort zone. That is the only way to keep on living.
BONUS: No pressure!
I decided to add because it speaks of a personal belief of mine. To both the student and adult in us, no pressure! The life we live is ours for the taking. Yes, we have to conform to societal standards and sure, there is always the rush of time. But I am firm believer the process. We all have our ways of living, of coping, of working, of simply anything! So find the ways that would work for YOU. Take enough time to heal without hurting anyone. Be open to other people’s feedback, but in the end, own up to your decisions. There is no pressure into being someone you are not proud of.