an instructional guide on how to grow up (for college students)

in the span of this quarter, i’ve realised one primary lesson. state of mind matters. it’s nothing to do with age, nor with a list of things done more than the other, it’s to do with how you apply those experiences to yourself and how have you understood yourself in relation to the world. it’s a different state of mind. i feel like i’m in a different state of mind from most freshmen here, and that sometimes affects me. it affects me , not because i feel like i know more than them, but because as a parent would worry for a kid as he seems him making the same mistakes he did when he was a kid, i worry that people here are going to fall into the same traps i did. perhaps everyone has to, at some point, but they are painful lessons.

the difference is that here, people prefer to block out those lessons. blind it, shove it and carry forward. i wondered for a while if that’s a good practice, legitimately. it did make some sense. but after a lot of introspection, and also reading some quotes from some of my favourite authors and influencers, i’m still standing by my philosophy that one should fully let himself feel pain and process it healthily.

so , if i wanted to kinda give some form of commentary right now, and advice on how to be a better human , i would do it here. again, this is not from a position of superiority, it’s from a position of empathy.

1) think about how others would feel – have empathy. the ability to truly feel the depth of someone else’s life is difficult trait to master but one that is essential. you connect with people, you understand why they do what they do , and you also understand what hurts them and what brings them joy. they’ll appreciate that you know them for who they are and are much more willing to be a part of your life. and for me, most importantly, you’ll never do anything stupid against them because you care about how they feel. it is important for everyone to care about how others feel. we could do with more of that.

2) talk to people without ambiguity – i can imagine it’s tough to be completely forthright with someone, but the best decisions have been made in life with complete information. decisions that take into account all variables – because they were communicated between parties. don’t lead others on, don’t make them feel like your best friend if they’re not ; these are all lessons i’ve learnt being on both sides . be clear, and be honest, and most of the time people will appreciate you a lot more for that, than for setting a false presumption

3) understand sensitivities. in a world driven by the need for individual freedom, we sometimes forget that others deserve the same right too. our freedom has to exist in tandem with the freedoms of others. we are a community, a society. be careful of what you say, even though you can say whatever you want. spread hope when you can, instead of hurt, because honestly we have too much hurt in this world already. be open to the fact that your opinion isn’t the only one in the world, and opinions are usually derived from experiences , which means that opinions tend to be personal. seek to understand. seek to truly understand someone else other than yourself.

4) reflect and introspect there was a part of my life where i bulldozed through most of the year. rack up awards, get leadership positions, do this, do that. it came at a price, at the cost of family and friends, of truly applying lessons to myself etc. now , this is where some of the advice comes from my experience in the business world. as much as a business values your skillsets and portfolio, people will hire you if you can tell stories behind what you do, and show how you’ll continue those stories forward. and when i say hire you, i mean to jobs that are higher than the band category for yourself. i’ve been blessed with job offers before i went to college, really because i felt so much for what i did and had reflected immensely on the lessons i was learning. reflect with friends, make them part of your thought process. to live is not to just climb the mountain, it’s to realise you’re daring to climb the mountain at all.

5) don’t just consume. create i’m a big fan of the maker movement. in our consumer culture, we tend to see things as “what can i get out of this?” . but a lot of maturity develops when you start creating your own things. whether it be creating music, or writing like i do, or even coding ; put your hands at something and be responsible for it. be responsible for the birth of an idea, or a melody or a concept. be responsible and then realise that being responsible is a tougher job than it sounds, but that you want to be responsible because you finally care about something. you care about how others will consume what you create, and then become sensitive about how you will consume.

there’s tons of growing up that happens when you put yourself out there. a lot of it definitely has to do with letting yourself feel a whole range of emotions and processing them healthily. i only hope that while it’s been incredibly fun so far, that we realise the value of growing up sooner than later , because the fun that we’ll have then is definitely a lot more meaningful, and i will stake my word on that.



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