One of the features that I enjoy on my most used social media site is the one where you can see what you had posted on that same day in years past. Not too long ago I ran across a status I had written describing my excitement of starting college and classes. Looking back, it feels like it happened a million years ago. I remember agonizing about what my major would be and feeling torn between social work, psychology, and music. College was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was great because I had the opportunity to meet new people, manage a schedule, and experience life in another structured and sheltered environment that was in a lot of ways like my home life. I learned a lot about assertiveness when I had to challenge grades with certain teachers. Before graduation I had to advocate for myself when it came down to required classes for graduation and I found a loophole and used it to my advantage. I learned about discipline and while I never perfected the art of studying, I learned about the benefits of procrastination and racing to meet a deadline while still delivering a quality scholarly work. College taught me the importance of time management and balancing conflicting priorities. The untimely deaths of several of my classmates reminded me of the importance of appreciating and living life to the fullest. Looking back, there’s not a lot I would change–except maybe being a bit more open minded and allowing myself to have more fun instead of being in the books all the time. Ah well.
Have you ever looked around and wondered why so many people live in a box? Not literally. While there are millions of people who live in boxes I’m referring to the box of the expectations of other people. One thing that social psychology has taught me is how much we influence each other. The saying, “no man is an island” actually has some truth to it. We are more productive in a community that is positive and supportive. However, sometimes it’s necessary to venture out of the community on your own. It’s easy to settle for stuff when you’re in a group of people doing the same thing. There are numerous examples of people who had to separate themselves from their peers and friends in order to succeed in life. It’s the life that 95% of people don’t want to live. They may be uncomfortable in the box but they’ll never leave because they aren’t willing to risk being misunderstood by their close friends and family. Being truly successful means breaking free of the expectations of others and competing with yourself. The 5% of people who are successful are willing to go the extra mile and do what others are too lazy, too tired, too busy, and too unfocused to do. It’s not an easy road but the results are permanent.