Today I reached the last day of my Bachelor of Asian Studies and Bachelor of Communications double degree. Here’s what I think of the whole experience through the words of some of my favourite authors:
“No doubt another may also think for me; but it is not therefore desirable that (s)he should do so to the exclusion of my thinking for myself.” Henry David Thoreau
I learned incredibly valuable things at university and in my wider life while I was studying. And while I think it is important to value what other people think about in relation to your life, ultimately, it’s all about being reflective enough to think for yourself, and let others think for themselves too.
“(Wo)men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.” Margaret Fuller
Some people are driven by the fact that at the end of their degree they are going to be earning X amount of money, or doing X amazingly high-powered job. That’s awesome, for them. But, I think that the preoccupation with getting a living takes away from the actual human experience of living, and I could not imagine ever being that set on a dollar figure or on a specific role, to the exclusion of all the other amazing things I could and should be experiencing at the same time. And hey, what better way to actually do that than making conscious decisions and being reflective and mindful of what you do.
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” Mary Oliver
On entering university, there is absolutely no way I would have imagined the things I have done, the experiences I have had, the incredible people I have met, and all that I have achieved. I love planning, but no amount of planning could have allowed me to end up eating sticky rice off a banana leaf in the middle of the jungle in Laos for university credit, nor could it have allowed me to meet some of the most kind and genuine and thoughtful youth and get the opportunity to speak to a 1000-strong audience of world leaders at the Asia Pacific Cities Summit last year… and those are just the unimaginable things that have happened in my uni life!
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” Jack Kerouac
At those times when everything was going haywire and you are being pulled in multiple directions… At those times when you’re lost or stuck or find yourself inexplicably crying by the side of the road… At those times when you feel you’ve reached your peak and you just want the world to stop so you can savour the moment for eternity… You’ve just gotta keep on rolling under the stars.
“They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.” Kahlil Gibran
People are always surprised that – though I am on a centrelink pension, (currently) do no paid employment, and am completely independent from my parents or anyone else in my life – I never spend time ‘worrying’ over money. Money is great and can do some great things, but I just have this mindset that “I’ll always make it work”. And I do. And do you know what? I don’t have to spend my days worrying about working just for the $$. In fact I find this economic valuing of life very limiting. Sure, I could be worth $100, $200, $5 000, $10 000 a day, in this, that or the other job. But that’s only if I value my days economically, and . . . I don’t.
“What matters to you defines your mattering.” John Green
Find stuff that makes you passionate. Stick with it. Get educated in it. Work out how you can change the system, or how you can make it better. If you care about things, your life will be 1000% more fulfilled, you will be a 1000% more interesting, and hey, it becomes part of you too, in the best ways. Feminism, gender violence prevention, mental health, Asian studies… it all makes me passionate, it all matters, and it defines my mattering right back at me.
“The universe is wider than our views of it.” Henry David Thoreau
This is proudly written on my wall. My friends and family could quote it back to me at a moment’s notice. And it applies to literally every situation (even this?!) in your life. It’s a bit scary, but it’s entirely fascinating, and I think it helps keep us mindful, humble and open.
“Enlightenment is understanding that there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nobody you have to be except exactly who you’re being right now.” Neale Donald Walsch
For all those times when exams have ended and you are sitting on your bed quietly sobbing in the midst of an existential crisis because you have ‘lost your purpose’ or ‘lost meaning to life’. For all those frazzled phone calls to your sister in Melbourne, wondering is this right/what do I do/where do I go from here/ how do I make everything stop for just a minute. For all those times when you feel overwhelmed. For all those times you don’t know what is next. For all those times, for all those times, for alllll those times…. It’s okay.
“You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.” Frank Lloyd Wright
It’s no lie, that thing they keep telling you, that ‘you only get out what you put in’. Honestly it took me quite a while to decide whether I was going to go for the New Colombo Plan scholarship (previously the Prime Minister’s Asia Endeavour Award)… like… 3 years? But once I decided that I was going for it, I decided it was absolutely worth having, and after deciding it was absolutely worth having, I decided that I definitely needed to win it. And I did… but I had to launch in fully. So if it’s worth it, do it.
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” Rumi
You’re one person. But you’re worth infinity to so many in your life. You’re worth infinity to life. Experience it all, immerse yourself completely, be thankful, do good for others and do good for yourself.
There’s really nothing more I can say, except: GO.
Oh, and thanks.