From a 2nd year, regarding the things I’ve learned in my first year and a bit so far:
I’ve been described as “overly content” which is a sort of bizarre statement. I am too content, apparently. I’m not even sure how that’s defined or why that’s a problem. So my first comment will be about the differences between happiness and contentness. People, as I see it, the mass population, are seeking happiness; which I believe to be inherently unsustainable in that no one can ever be 100% happy 100% of the time. There will always be spikes up and down between happiness and sadness or maybe disappointment and excitement or depression and ecstasy. In balance, this is pretty normal. There will always be those ups and downs. The key to being content is to realize exactly where you are and accept it for what it is. If I’m sad, I don’t immediately try to make myself happy, maybe I’ll pull out some slow, jazzy music or watch a nostalgic show in the background while I sketch or write. It’s not dwelling in sadness for the sake of sadness, it’s dwelling in sadness for the sake of balance. It’s sort of crazy to explain, but it makes you content which in turn gives an immense sense of satisfaction. And if you can feel satisfied in sadness, there isn’t much that can bring you truly down.
Similar to the above, I think a sense of realism is very important not only for my trade as a designer but also for myself as a person. Am I an optimist? Yes and no. Am I a pessimist? Yes and no.
I think it’s about being honest. The world doesn’t owe you anything, so hoping and praying really only gets you so far. The world doesn’t care about your complaining, so being negative about something won’t make it change either. Look at the situation, know it, and then make plans and routes in and around it. Sometimes that means inspiring hope in others even if they don’t believe they can do something, in this way be a mentor and role model of optimism. Sometimes that means kicking people in the pants and telling them they’re hoping too hard, and in that way be a role model of pessimism. We forge our own paths and it requires both approaches used wisely to accomplish things. Always have a back up plan for the back up plan. Mull over all possible outcomes and the outcomes of those outcomes. Prepare accordingly.
As a student money is tight. Time is money, and a penny saved can be a penny earned here: do some research to get the most nutrition out of that same dollar. 1 kg of apples is not the same as 1 kg of Kraftdinner in price or health factor. Not all veggies are equal. Peanut butter is a lot cheaper than you’d think. Despite congress, pizza isn’t really a vegetable. Read the food guide and realize what your ingesting. A lack of time isn’t an excuse for eating crap – remember, you don’t actually have to make meals, you just have to hit the food guide’s targets. Why make a salad when you could just gnaw on a cucumber? Do your grocery store research, around here you can pay almost double by going to the store across the street; why they’re still in business I have no idea. Since you’ll be eating less filler when you strip down the meals, you’ll probably need to look for a cheap way to get empty-ish calories. Things like cashews can be handy here- super filling, slow burning energy. Make a pattern and stick by it, noting how long it takes to go through each food, some you’ll buy weekly, some every year. Evolve the pattern based on what you do and don’t eat and what works best per price. Sadly, you’ll have to cut some things that you like and are healthy simply because of price. Yogurt? I’m sad to see you go.
Sometimes it’s cheaper to eat out than buy the food. I figure when Subway does $5 footlongs, I’m getting about the same as if I’d buy it at the grocer and I don’t have to prepare or keep any of it from going bad. Whenever possible, water is free. Usually restaurant pop is ~$2.50 but you can buy a 2L of the same thing for 70 cents at the store. Then, remember pop is terrible for you and don’t drink it at all.
On Academic Life
Studying sucks, but if you can find a public place to do it (libraries, the empty corners of mall food courts) there can be benefits. Distractions are good and bad. Ideally, of course, you want to increase the good and minimize the bad. For me, I like being in a public place because every few minutes I can look up and watch the things around me, which helps maintain my focus on the task at hand. I can also limit my distracting internet access better if I’m not sitting at my computer desk. The noise is nice, especially during Christmas season when the malls smell like caramel coffee, wet shoes and giddy anticipation. If you’re sketching, it’s a great way to get out and sketch some new scenery. Likewise with photography and architectural modelling. If you’re single, you can wait around and hope someone sits down opposite you and comments on the book you’re reading, leading to a lifelong best friend and future spouse. Then, remember that you’re a lot more productive / distraction free / happy when you’re alone.
Kids, it’ll happen. You can’t be the best at everything. But! You can sabotage the best kid most of the time, making your project look relatively better. You don’t learn much by succeeding on your first try, so get out there and fail as much as you can. It’s just a school project and most (good) teachers will recognize your learning, not your outcome product, and mark you on that. Make friends, not enemies. These people are the same people you’ll be in the workforce beside, and the world is a lot smaller than you might think. They have a surprising amount of say into your future ventures. With that said? Always maintain a competitive edge. Find something that makes you unique and irreplaceable by them.
On Life Itself
No one escapes it alive, so have fun and remember that everyone in society is people just like you, and half of them will be below average. Very little is truly a big deal. Remember all those things that were a big deal to you last year? Are they still a big deal now? Probably not. Why were you worrying. So, by the same logic, would the future you look back at what you’re doing now and laugh? If so, stop worrying and laugh at it yourself.