Into adulthood, almost 22 years into life, I’ve learned many things.
I’ve learned how to walk, and talk, and write letters.
I’ve learned how to make those letters into words and those words into sentences that sometimes make sense.
I’ve learned (miraculously) how to let the little things go and live life like a wave (and have always had a love for alliteration).
I have taught myself the virtue of patience, and 8-hour bladder control (thanks to teaching the young children), and how to carry things on my head for all of 7 seconds.
But of everything I have learned, the most important take away, I think, is to never stop learning.
About math, science, geography, and the people around you. They often have the best stories, and the best knowledge.
I am fortunate to have been able to immerse myself abroad, in a new country, town, culture, and standard of living. I am far from an expert on these countries, and far from truly understanding what life is like there, since I was just an ‘obroni’ traveler volunteering my time for but a couple of months.
What I do know, though, is that what I learned from the people I met there will forever exceed anything I have learned, and will ever learn, in school.
People are your best resources.
If someone is around you, that means they somehow, someway, ended up in the same space.
You all ended up in the same place at the same time, and are likely now doing similar things.
And while you ended up together at this moment, your paths leading up to now were so, so different.
You grew up in different households, towns, states, countries.
You have a different set of relatives living in your home and different relationships with those people; you may even speak a different language with them than you do at work.
Maybe the person sitting next to you speaks 3 different languages, with English being their second or third.
Maybe you are the one with a rich background – the one with a story to tell.
Or maybe the girl down the hall has family members in the country you’re travelling to on your next vacation and can give you the inside scoop.
What if the boy you sit across from grew up learning math using a different method, and can help you solve the problem you’ve been stuck on for hours?
How do you know the woman who just got promoted didn’t grow up bouncing from foster home to foster home, until she was able to pay for school and work her ass off to get to where she is now?
All of you have had life experiences that lead here, yes.
But those experiences have also taught you differently than the person sitting next you, and has shaped your mind in a unique way.
I think that is the most beautiful thing about humans: we are so incredibly unique; we have such an amazing mind filled with memories and choices and viewpoints that allow us to see the world through a new set of glasses.
We have had a different set of family, friends, mentors, and way of living.
Different resources and standards of living and values that have shaped the way we live on this planet.
So talk to the people around you.
Wear their glasses for a while.
Can you imagine if we could see through everyone’s glasses all the time?
I would want that would be my superpower: to be able to communicate with everyone on this planet, so I can learn about how they perceive everything around them.
I think that’s way more fun than walking a mile in their shoes.
You may just learn something about yourself you didn’t realize before.