Lessons in 4 years
(This article was written as a piece of advice in the final edition of Entelechy for the year, now that I will be graduating)
Never give advice — a wise man won’t need it, a fool won’t heed it.
So rather think of what follows as a crystallization of my opinions, which may serve you well. The last four years of my life have been a period of discovery and extreme change. In that I’ve either realised or read and agreed with certain qualities that will prove indispensible.
The first is self control. In college, nothing else matters! If you want to get things done, if you want to stay on the right path (subjectively of course), then nothing else will matter more than self control. Not your intelligence, your wealth, your environment or your friends. Only your will-power. You and I are living in a world where addiction is easier than ever to fall prey to. Information bombards us from everywhere, a plethora of online services crave for our attention, and in the physical world, chatter, video, liquids and powders demand our attention. These distractions will stop you from giving your time to the things that matter the most to you. Those who can stick to their course will fare better.
If you are the sort of person who compulsively says yes to everything, learn to say NO. If you are a doer, people will ask for your help for the most trivial of things, or sometimes for the most important things. Decide if you have the time to devote to it, don’t immediately leave what you are already doing. If it is not worth it, learn to say a firm, direct, NO. Having your attention over forty different things means that all of them will remain incomplete.
The second thing that will prove invaluable is self learning. You are in an information technology college, and being autodidacts is most relevant to us than to anyone else. Information Technology moves far too fast, much faster than academia, than law, than social conventions or the speed of light. An inability to teach yourself new things will quickly put you out of the competition.
Being able to learn things on your own also opens a universe of experiences, each of which can be used to replace the boredom that leads to addictions. Self learning is not just watching video tutorials of the Internet, it means being able to evaluate yourself, setting new challenges and goals and keeping yourself on the path to achieve them.
Learning on your own will also help guide you towards your passion(s). Because anything on which you are willing to spend time without anyone else telling you too, is clearly something you love doing. Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. 1
Stay fit. You come to college and forget all about play. You spend evenings either poring over books, or playing computer games or wasting time lounging about. In these actions you are setting the pattern for how you will live your life. You might think, ‘I’ll just eat less’ or ‘I don’t mind getting a bit fat’, but few things are as joyful as sweating it out on lush green grass, day after day. Revel not only in the improvement of your mind, but in the miracle of your body. It may not get you a job, but it will ensure that when you walk into office, heads turn. Finally, like everything else, don’t over do it. Learn to listen to your body and your body will listen to you.
Have a relentless pursuit to rise above the mediocrity that is encouraged by our social system (‘our’ here applies all over the world, I’m not dissing on India). Are you scared of what you’ve to do to achieve your dream? Start small, a little step here, another one there. Find the right level of challenge. But always aim higher than you know you can go. Have a bucket list, and an ideas list. Both lists will start to fill up like mad and you will never be able to tick all of them off. You are far too small, and the world too big to be able to see it all, but just by breaking out of your comfort zone, you’ll have seen more of it than most people can imagine.
Finally, go and Create!
If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place
-- Rainer Maria Rilke
There is nothing more anti-human that the lazy consumerism that is prevalent today. I do not mean you should write a book, or create software or write a song. The smallest creations make a big difference to your happiness. True happiness can be found in a football move created on the ground, or the smile created on another face by your actions. Let your creations, and not your tastes, be what define you. Tastes only narrow and exclude people. So create. 2
I’ll leave you with 50 more things.