- John Mavrick
Disclaimer: This was a reflection I wrote during for an assignment during my first year of high school, which you can find the video alternative to here
“When will I use any of this math in my everyday life?”
“Why do I need to learn about the Bible and God to become a software developer?”
“Do I really need to know how a hole is a symbol in this random novel?”
Questions such as these are what occupied my mind during my first few years of high school.
When given an assignment, I would simply do what was asked, and hand in my finished product for it to be graded. Not once would I think about why I was doing it, or what good resulted from it.
After doing all my schoolwork, I would then go on to just play video games until night, where I would go to bed and wake up repeating the entire process all over again.
I’m sure you can probably relate to what I just said. Being required to take mandatory classes every year, finding a class or two boring only makes sense.
An aspiring computer science major like me had no interest in writing essays or doing anything not related to my preferred field of study.
But that’s where my mindset was wrong.
I mean, there are definitely some things I learned in school that could be replaced by what I believe to be more important topics like learning how to budget your finances, learning how to get over social anxiety, and even learning how to learn efficiently.
That’s not where the importance lies.
Rather, it’s the underlying skills and concepts you learn as a result of all this schoolwork, even if you don’t realize it.
For example, different questions in math require you to adapt to different scenarios and rationally come up with a solution. Writing literary analysis essays make you think deeper about an author’s purpose for creating their literary works.
In both scenarios, you’re practicing important life skills that will help you as you progress through life.
So, what am I trying to say?
First off, listen for the indirect lessons and values taught by school.
Even though you might be bored out of your mind, mindlessly listening to your teacher ramble on about shapes and numbers, you might as well pay attention to what they’re saying and make some use out of it. I don’t think the school system is too great either, but there’s nothing you can really do except go along with it until you’re able to finally dive into what you’re passionate about. If you don’t put in the effort now, you might end up regretting it later on in life.
Second, even if it may not be fun at first, be immersed in what you do and try to reflect on your experiences.
Like mentioned earlier, think about how those shapes and numbers could be important in your life, or figure out how you can use that information to help you in achieve your goals. Even a reason such as to improve your retention and listening skills can give you a reason to pay attention and give it purpose.
By constantly thinking about the importance of what’s happening around you, it challenges your prior beliefs and forms new ones based off new information. Then, once you’re finished learning the information, reflect upon the experience. What did you learn from it? How has it shaped you as a person?
To be fair, I’m not sure how shapes and numbers could shape you (haha), but you never know.
Lastly, it’s important to live with self-improvement in mind.
When I spent all my time playing video-games from day until night, I felt pretty good; I was chilling with friends, I was pummeling kids online, life was great. However, there’s always room for improvement. Instead of spending all that time on entertaining yourself, it doesn’t hurt to allocate some of it to improving yourself. Whether it be further learning about your passions, reading, exercising or even meditating; you can find a way to push yourself to become better than you from the day before. With society constantly evolving to greater heights, we too, should progress along with it. Once again, the process of self-improvement might not be all that exciting, but sometimes you just have to persevere through feelings of boredom and procrastination to achieve the end result.
I can talk the talk, but do I walk the walk? How have I applied this in my own life?
I’ve always had school as one of my top priorities. I was constantly told by my family and peers that I was academically gifted, and I didn’t want to waste it or let them down. As much as I wanted to just play games and do nothing productive all day, I knew I had to all my assignments to avoid a gloomy future that wasted my potential.
Reflecting on your experiences and being present in the moment has tremendously shaped my identity and realigned my values. At first, English and Catholic Studies were two of my most hated classes; I could have cared less about learning more about boring scriptures, and I was repelled by the thoughts of reading and writing for academic purposes.
However, through the help of teachers and my own realizations, I came to understand the underlying purposes for what I had perceived to be boring and useless assignments. In fact, as I’m currently writing this script, they’re 2 of the 3 classes I’m taking this quarter of school. And now that I’m nearing the end of both classes, I've realized the invaluable lessons I’ve learned along the way that accompanied my active listening and participation in the classes. Through the constant reflection and discussion I experienced in both classes, it has become a habit of mine to spend time thinking about how the world around me and my actions influence the world around me and my actions. Through my extensive writing, I’ve been able to improve my articulatory skills and overall understanding of the topics I think about.
It was only recently where I took it upon myself to improve as an individual.
When tragedy had struck within my life, I initially wanted to just drop everything I was working on and find a way to run from all the chaos. However, I realized that behaving in such a way would lead me to nowhere, and then I proceeded to feel ashamed for bathing in my gloominess. To get the best of both worlds, I distracted myself by learning how to make up for my wasted time and worked on bringing in that positive change I needed in my life. I put my full attention into the homework I did, I started reading books and absorbing information to better make sense of myself and the world around me.
Along other forms of personal development, it paid off. I felt happier and more confident in my abilities after emerging victorious from such a demoralizing situation, and that passion for learning and self-improvement has stuck with me since.
With the controversial society and ongoing pandemic we’re experiencing right now, it’s important to occasionally escape from such draining circumstances and seek refuge in uplifting activities.
1.5 years after I wrote this, spending time to embrace and cultivate these mindsets have transformed my life. To my past self, thank you for your courage and action.
What are you waiting for? Start your own journey now.