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25 Things I Have Learnt Since Leaving School!

I recently realised that I might be considered old now. I commented about “the good old days” and was laughed at because it turned out that I was referring to the 90s! That was before social media, before the internet, and back when it was possible to ask an older-looking friend to buy you alcohol because they looked 18. In light of this realisation, I thought I’d share a list of 25 things I have learned in the 25 years since leaving school.

What Have I Learned Since Leaving School?

As I realised that 25 years had passed since my school days, I started contemplating what exactly I had learned since my compulsory education. As teenagers, we tend to act as if we know everything, thinking that we have a perfect life ahead of us, but life has its own ways of tripping us up. With that thought in mind, I decided to share 25 things that I have learned since my school days.

Photo of Four Girls Wearing School Uniform Doing Hand Signs
Photo by 周 康

25. Don’t be in a rush to grow up – remember to enjoy the little moments, as you never know when they will be the only memories you have left!

24. Things change, people change, and yes, you change – Just because you spent most of your high school education wanting to be a teacher doesn’t mean that you will always want to be a teacher! (I never wanted to be a teacher; I just used it as a narrative.)

23. Never let your school experience hold you back We aren’t all lucky enough to be popular, pretty, or straight-A students (I was a C student if you are interested), but that being said, never let your school experience hold you back from living life, and from being who you want to be. High school is five years of your life! That’s five short years in the scheme of the rest of your life!

22. Remember the teachers who inspired you. Teachers are weird creatures. They spend five years trying to educate you, and we often remember the ones who were angry or demanding. Teachers are still humans!

21. You can’t excel at everything (but you can try) – We often spend our school experience competing against others, whether it be sports, drama, music, or being the most popular. This usually extends well into adulthood, and we spend our 20s and even 30s believing that we need to compete for everything! That’s a lie; we don’t!

20. Work/Life Balance – Find a job that you enjoy and that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning! But remember, all work and no play will only bring you down!

Person Using Macbook Pro on Table
Photo by Anna Shvets

19. No one said you have to have it all planned out – We have this mentality that we have to conform to what society tells us: 9-5 job, house, marriage, kids, travel. It is okay not to go to plan. It is okay to have all of those things, some of the things, and none of those things!

18. Friends – During your school years, you will ultimately have some great friends; some will extend beyond those years, and others will not. That is not to say that friendships aren’t worth it, but we grow up, change, and live different lives. Suddenly, your best friend since primary school is just a friend on your Facebook page. You will meet so many different people; some will become friends for years, and others will come and go. Learn to treasure the ones that stick around!

17. Travel – Don’t put it off; if you want to backpack across Asia, do it! Whether you are 18 or 55, experience everything! Life is short, and we are all terrible at putting things off, saying we will do it ‘one day’, but not everyone gets that ‘one day’.

16. Not everyone will like you – It’s hard when we all want social acceptance, but over the years, I’ve learned that we aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes, you will meet people who won’t appreciate you, and if you know what, it’s okay.

15. You can’t please everyone, so please yourself – It’s harder now when we view our lives on Facebook and Instagram or share our lives on TikTok. There will always be people who want to bring you down or make you feel bad. If you enjoy doing it, don’t let others tell you otherwise because, for the one negative comment, there will be a positive.

Calm young woman in warm clothes in public transport
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

14. That Night Out is long forgotten, or so it used to be – As a teenager, I used to have a lot of fun nights out with my friends, but there is no evidence of those times, no photos or videos. However, in this digital age, any mistake we make can be recorded and made available to future employers, employees, or anyone who decides to search for it online.

13. Social Media is not your friend – I know people who are really into social media and use all the latest platforms, while others don’t even have Messenger. One of my friends went out for a few drinks on a Sunday night (which is totally fine) but then wrote on Facebook while sitting on the train to work the following day, ‘What a great night! Feeling a little hungover this morning – lots of coffee needed!’

Unfortunately, HR and her manager saw the post and accused her of being drunk at work. Even though she wasn’t actually drunk, the post was used as evidence against her, and she was fired after an investigation. This happened when Facebook was still new, and no one really knew how to handle social media policies. It was a harsh lesson for my friend! Just be a little cautious.

12. Never be afraid to say ‘No’ – I’m one of those people who don’t like saying ‘no’. However, in the last few years, I have learned that we shouldn’t be afraid of the word. I was offered the perfect job last summer; it was everything I wanted and more, but my family circumstances made me realise that it just wasn’t ‘right’ at that moment. So, I made the painful decision to turn it down. Another opportunity came a few months later.

11. Do you need that coffee? – I would like to talk about money/finances. I tend to overspend money, and it often feels like I cannot hold onto my money. However, I have been working on becoming more mindful of my spending habits. To help me manage my finances better, I use a couple of apps on my phone.

One of these apps helps me keep track of my income and expenses, while the other is a savings app that allows me to save money and monitor my expenses. These apps have been instrumental in helping me save money and be more mindful of my spending habits. Although, I still find a bit of change for a sneaky caffeine hit.

10. Office Politics – In any workplace, there will inevitably be office politics that you have to navigate. Sometimes, it may seem like there’s one set of rules for certain people and another set for everyone else. Additionally, managers can vary significantly in their behaviour and leadership styles. It’s not uncommon to feel like an outsider, even if you’re not working in a traditional office environment. Personally, I used to tell myself every day that the only reason I stayed was because of the money. Otherwise, I would have walked out without a second thought.

Three Woman Sitting on White Chair in Front of Table
Photo by CoWomen

9. No one ever knows what the hell is going on (it’s a myth) – I have played various roles in my life, such as a girlfriend, a wife, a best friend, an employee, and a mother. However, there is no definite formula to get everything right. You simply continue with your efforts and hope that they bring about a positive change. So, do not be too hard on yourself if you face a tough day or feel that you are not succeeding because, in reality, you are doing just fine!

8. I’ve learnt to take it as it comes – My life hasn’t turned out the way I imagined it when I was 15. I had hoped to go to college and university and then travel the world in my 20s and early 30s before settling down, having a couple of kids, moving to the countryside and leading a relaxed life.

However, things didn’t go as planned. I got married at 22 and had my first child at 25, followed by my second child at 28, and having a special needs child made it even more challenging. No amount of planning can prepare you for such a situation. Nonetheless, I believe everything happens for a reason, and it’s okay to accept the changes life throws at us.

7. Mental & Physical Health – In this journey we call life, we often forget to take care of ourselves. We spend so much time working, socialising, caring or simply living that we forget to take time out and prioritise self-care. When was the last time you did something for yourself and didn’t feel guilty or rushed? Sometimes, we need to take a little time out to enjoy a walk in the park or have an extra coffee with a friend; it’s good for our well-being.

6. Your relationship with yourself is more important than most – Your relationship with yourself is the foundation upon which all other relationships are built. It is the root of your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love. When you prioritise your relationship with yourself, you become more confident, resilient, and authentic. You are better equipped to handle challenges, setbacks, and difficult emotions. You learn to trust your instincts, speak your truth, and honour your boundaries.

You also cultivate a deeper sense of compassion, kindness, and acceptance towards yourself and others. Ultimately, your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have, and it requires your constant care, attention, and love.

Crop faceless woman reading book on bed
Photo by Koshevaya_k

5. Listen and Learn – In life, listening and learning are essential skills that can lead to personal growth and improved relationships. By actively listening to others, we can gain valuable insights, understand different perspectives, and empathise with those around us. 

Additionally, being open to learning from various experiences and sources allows us to broaden our knowledge and continuously adapt to new situations. Embracing the mindset of listening and learning not only fosters personal development but also promotes effective communication and understanding in our interactions with others.

4. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable – It means embracing challenges, uncertainty, and change instead of shying away from them. When we step out of our comfort zone, we open ourselves up to new experiences and opportunities for growth. It may feel daunting at first, but by pushing ourselves beyond what is familiar, we develop resilience, adaptability, and confidence. Whether it’s taking on a new job, learning a new skill, or facing a difficult situation, being comfortable with being uncomfortable allows us to thrive in the face of adversity and ultimately become the best version of ourselves.

3. There is no such thing as normal – Each person’s experiences, perspectives, and circumstances are unique, leading to a diverse tapestry of individuality. Embracing this diversity and recognising that what may be considered “normal” for one person may not be the same for another allows us to appreciate the richness of human existence. Rather than striving for an illusory standard of normalcy, we can celebrate our differences and cultivate understanding and empathy for one another.

2. Learn from failure – When faced with failure, it’s essential to take the time to reflect on what went wrong and why. By analysing the factors that led to the failure, we can gain valuable insights that can be used to make better decisions in the future. It’s also essential to maintain a positive attitude and not let failure discourage us. Instead, we should use it as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and improve. Seeking feedback from others and being open to new ideas can also provide valuable perspectives that help turn failure into a valuable learning experience.

1. Lastly, 25 years…A lot can change in 25 years, and yet, some things can stay the same. It is essential to take a moment to appreciate the small things in life, such as smelling the roses and capturing memories in photographs. You never know when those photos will be the only thing you have left to look back on.

Has it been a while since you left school? Have you learned some things you’d like to share? Perhaps you’ve left school recently, and you still don’t know where you want to be. Please click like, share it around, and maybe leave a little comment. I know I’d appreciate it! If you are interested, Cosmopolitan magazine ran a similar article back in 2018!

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