You wouldn’t have had to be attentive to perceive the glint of pride from the voice over the mic. There was a pre-graduation ceremony in a church unit in the School (yes, church). And the President of the graduating year was gleamingly giving a speech of thanks to the church heads for the luncheon surprise.
I was sat amongst 50-something graduands (members of the church only. There were over 20 churches on campus) and my sentiment was about same as half of those around me. I could tell by their expressions – indifferent yet relief. Life through the university had no particular highs or lows.
The president, in his majestic way, announced that his people (fellow graduands) had thoughts to share, and he wished they were permitted to rapidly pass their message across, individually.
He forwarded the mic to the person at the edge of the row to come forward to speak to the crowd.
When he finished, the mic moved to the person in succession, and it advanced that way. Some people requested to sing to express their joys, some started with quotes from past notable leaders. It was really just a time to be yourself and do what you wanted to, no holds barred. There was no time limit.
If you could share advice with your school self what would you say?
It got to my turn to say a few words to the freshers, and the rest of the older students. I walked to the front of the stage. There were over 200 pairs of inquisitive eyes digging into mine, waiting to hear how I could fit my 5year story in a twitter 140-characters way, but articulated.
Even the person with the least church attendance was present today. Such a day as this was one that was sure to bring in everyone from their corners. These kinds of days are recorded as a time well spent in the church I guess.
Just like the day preceding an exam, or the day succeeding a tragic incident. Sunday service attendance would be remarkable.
I have terrible stage fright and I shudder a bit. I know I’m supposed to share wisdom to the congregation. So I lock my eyes on a (shy) lady I noticed was averting hers, someone just like me. And I began.
Throwback Advice to my School Self
“You would always be told to be an avid reader of your academic books and avoid distraction. But from personal experience, I would rather you read AND engage distractions now and again. Be careful to observe your grade points while participating greatly in school life.”
“If you’re one to read intentionally, fine. If you only read intensely the day before a test or an exam, it’s fine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
“Attend events and parties as much as you want. Go for a chill break the time you can, and travel to neighboring towns with friends to explore cities.”
“But never take activities that concern your Grade Point lightly. Don’t assume you would make up for poor academic results ‘later’ as a reason to slack on school work at the moment. Or as a means to ditch due assignments for girls/boys hang out at joints.”
“Or say you would read better for the next one and it would balance up when you fail at schoolwork. Try all you can to contest your result if you can. Or immediately learn the reason you failed, and keep it locked in mind.”
“Don’t be stupid. There’ll always be a lot of time to sleep. Or gist. There will come a time you’ll spend back to back days doing nothing, after school, and even while in school. The weeks after exams.”
“The one day or one month you have to read for a test or an exam, just do it. It’ll come and it’ll pass, and you’ll be back to having fun with life.”
I didn’t say all that out loud. They stayed at the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t let it out because of my anxiety. But what I could say was,
“Your goal while in school should be to finish with a good grade, by any means. And still, enjoy your time in school.”
Throwback Memories of School
My mind went to my second year of schooling. Lectures and participation had been going ok without much effort. I was studying an engineering course and being on a 4.00/5.00 GPA, I hadn’t realized, was a big deal.
I had good bookish friends who had little interest in parties and boys, but quite the opposite with course topics and passing assignments forward. The majority of my course mates thought little of fashion, quite a dismay, but it affected nothing. Course outlines were paramount and assignments were taken seriously.
The engineering faculty was secluded from the general body of the school. It wasn’t premeditated though. Various departments just happened to outgrow the school surrounding and chose to expand. The available (hence chosen) lands were almost on the outskirts of the school.
So the rest of the school progressed without undue interference from the engineering students, and vice versa. The engineering students, thus, managed with the lifestyle of less hippy, more controlled, and old fashioned generations.
Did you let school pass through you?
Honestly, I have zero memory of my first year in school. I remember my second year because that was the first real memory of school I have of a different life from home. The first time I was deliberate with my actions and owning my choices.
I engaged in some activities because I wanted to, and not because it seemed to tally with the “good”, or that I needed to. Even, I made decisions for me, irrespective of repercussions. Spending money on things other than school needs or food.
I tuned lower to the voices of reasoning in my head and relaxed. With no deviation from my values nevertheless, but not having too many premeditated actions or be too plan ridden or careful. I plotted in carefreeness, yet decently.
I joined the Rotaract society and one time they planned a road trip to a different school in a different state. A state that was known for being a major tourist center in the country at the time, Cross River.
That was the first event I participated in school and I enjoyed it greatly. It wasn’t because it was a lot of playing around, those aren’t even the memories that come to mind. Since it was a functional trip, there were less vain talks.
If there was anything I picked from the journey, I’d say I became more open-minded. Thereafter I accepted invitations to programs, birthday hangouts, all-night music concerts, parties in another state. Even became a political contender at some point in my school years. On two occasions and won both.
Live school life to the fullest!
You cannot compare what you can achieve from spending time with books with the mere transient satisfaction from having fun drinking and dancing while playing catch up with friends.
But if you can find the balance between those two activities, you would find the secret to the greatest experience of your life while in school. And you’d applaud the College continuum.
The balance is key, and that key is simply to monitor your grade cycle while still deliberately living and growing in informal knowledge amongst people and functions.
In the mementos of my college experience, I can only keep tabs on times I participated in an activity, or when engaged in events.
I cannot remember the times I sat in classes, or what happened during an exam or test.
The questions of exams I passed or failed elude me. Am I even practicing the degree of what I struggled all through school to achieve?
It’s not so much the fun that happens while performing in non-academic activities that make it memorable, but the unrehearsed and unpredictable nature of the period.
These events, even though not completely educational, they’re informally enlightening. Unlike being in a lecture room and knowing when a next question would be asked.
How was/ is your university school experience like, and what advice would you give to your former self?