When you’re in school, it seems like everything you’re learning is super important. You might even get the impression that you will definitely use what you learn forever.
Here’s the deal: that’s almost certainly not true. No matter how sophisticated the material you’re learning is, there’s a decent chance that the only time you will “apply” it in your life is during your studies. After that, you might get a career in a totally different field, leaving behind all of that “important” stuff you learned before.
This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s true enough that it’s worth pondering when you’re stressing out about the results of exams. Your formal education is only a small sliver of your total life.
The interesting part is when your formal education is over. What do you do then? Do you rejoice in the fact that you don’t have to learn anything new ever again, or do you resolve to keep on pushing your boundaries? There’s a choice to be made here, and it provides some insight on what kind of person you are.
Formal education only takes up a small chunk of your life, but you can continue learning forever. There’s a vast potential available to you in order to grow as a person throughout your life. You just need to be willing to do the difficult work of showing up over and over to improve. Once you start, it’s easy to continue, but the real challenge is making the choice to commit.
Twenty years from now, do you want to realize that the last time you read a book was part of an assigned reading? Do you want to think about all the wasted opportunities for growth?
While your required education may seem interminable when you’re in that period, the truth is that it goes by all too quickly. After that, we’re on our own, and it’s up to us to decide what we want to do. We can choose to just go on with our lives and not learn anymore, or we can commit to taking charge of our education. No, you won’t have someone present you with a syllabus and a reading list. Instead, it will only be you, with no instructions. But instead of throwing up your hands up and saying that it’s all too complicated, start with your interests, and go from there. There’s no wrong decision. It’s all up to you.
My suspicion is that you will be happy with any choice you make with regards to continuing your education. After all, the alternative is learning nothing.
There’s no better time to start than today (except perhaps yesterday). It just takes a first commitment, and then keeping it up. I know you can do it, and I also know your future self will be very grateful for the time you spent now.