If I could go back in time…

Lake Pokegama Sunset
Photo Credit: Malvern Madondo

P.S. “If I could go back in time…” is an article I initially wrote on LinkedIn and if you want to read the original post, click here.

Recently, I was part of a group of 50 students selected nationwide to participate in a weeklong program geared towards helping Black and Latinx Computer Science and Engineering students navigate their way and thrive in the technoverse (yeah I made that up – think technology and universe combined). Throughout the entire week, I had the opportunity to meet with various leaders in the tech industry, from recruiters to developers, engineers, managers, photographers, and insert-illustrious-profession-here…

Most of the people I interacted with seemed well-established in their careers and quite frankly, I got the impression that they had everything figured out, maybe almost everything. Being one currently on the college rollercoaster where grades fluctuate like stock exchange rates and where success is anything but permanent, I was curious to find out what these folks wish they had done earlier in their lives, years back as college students. For obvious reasons, I will not mention their names lest you start snooping around for what is not necessary and let your curiosity overshadow the three most important lessons I gained from these conversations:

  1. On time management: Knowing how college is, it wasn’t surprising to find out that a good number of the folks I talked to actually struggled with time management as college students. Some wish they had known how to slow down and go with the tide. One individual I talked to said if they could go back to their college years, they would learn to not get overwhelmed with mounds of work, especially unncessary work. Knowing your priorities is not enough if you don’t know how to act on those priorities. I learned that it is important to not try to crawl, walk, and run at the same time. Bite what you can chew! Time management means knowing what to do, when to do it and get it done, how to do it efficiently, where to do it, with who, etc. It’s not just about setting a timer for 30 minutes of undistracted studying and resume after every 5 minutes of bliss and fun.
  2. On learning: If you are expecting to find nuggets of wisdom on how to learn, I advice you to stop reading at the end of this sentence. Now that you are not expecting to be told how to learn, I will continue sharing what I learned, not tips on how you, dear reader, can learn. One engineer I talked to emphasized that learning is not as important as having the ability to learn. A circus lion can learn to do tricks, but can never ask questions or challenge its teacher. Having an ability to learn means having the temerity to not only ask questions, but to admit to not knowing. One professional said they’d rather have someone on their team who is motivated to learn than have one who is reluctant to learn.
  3. On being uncomfortable: There’s this quote that I came across that pretty much summarizes all that I learned about daring to venture out of the norm and stepping into the storm, “There is no comfort in the growth zone and there is no growth in the comfort zone.” Most of the people I talked to attributed their current and past successes to pushing themselves and having friends and mentors who pushed them to do more than average. They didn’t find it fun walking the extra mile or even introducing themselves to strangers without feeling being judged. Because they did that, and oftentimes gained nothing but experience, they prospered. In the end, experience is what matters most.

So there, the ball is now in your court and I hope you will take something out of this and step out of your comfort zone, even if it means sharing this post (haha self-advertising), and grow your potential and abilities! If you have any thoughts and ideas on what you wish you’d done or what you would like to do if given a second or third chance, please share below or DM!

In The End

In the End:

“We all grapple with balance in life. But perhaps the first step to achieving that balance is giving ourselves permission. Permission to breathe.” – Jane Miller

Time swings by so fast, like a pendulum. It seems life is always in motion. Constant motion. We are born, we grow, we live and then, then we die. Life goes on. But as long as there is life, there is no death.

Picture Credit: Central Michigan Uni/Time Management

Aboard the train to work, a friend and I were talking about how fast the summer has gone by, how much time we seemed to have in the beginning and how little time we have now until the end. My friend happens to be a rising senior in college. The excitement of having made it so far is strong, and so is the realization that after this race, a new one will begin and who knows how that will compare to the present? My friend dreads being lost in the motion of time, swinging from work to home and back, from eating to sleeping and back, and other repetitive stuff that personally not find appealing but necessary. Many people I know, including myself, live from the ‘To-Do List’ – always buried in a hive of activities. This is so especially in ‘developed‘ countries where everyday is a race against time… and money. From conferences to meetings and back again. If in college, from back-to-back classes to daily shifts at the cafeteria or wherever the workplace may be. To and from, the time bob swings. Before we know it, graduation is around the corner and we join the rest of the world in that continuum. We work and live to work. In our last moments, depending on how well and fully we lived, we wish we had more time to live again. That’s the sad reality and cruelty of running out of time.

As I look ahead to the future, all I can think of is what I want to do. I imagine getting that well-paying job, living in a posh suburb, having a family, and much more. I seldom look at the little things that swing along with the time bob. In the end, those little things will matter. Those little things like doing nothing, being happy for others and for myself, finding joy and helping others find joy. Those little things that we so often neglect because we are being carried away in a whirlwind of activities on a daily basis without even knowing it. It’s like being on a journey without a destination. The goal is to find balance in life. In the end, it’s not how long we lived but how well we lived.