[Originally posted on January 28, 2015 on my website. Copying it over onto this one for archiving.]
On Tuesday this week, I went to work for the very last time as a cadet.
[No, cadet in my context does not have anything to do with the defence force. It’s pretty much the same as being on a paid internship or apprenticeship; and counts towards the completion of my degree.]
The last 12 months of my life has by far been the most rewarding year of my life.
I could go on for hours on end enumerating all the IT/industry-related things I’ve picked up along the way, but it’s the things about life I’ve learned that have contributed to the version of myself today, and here are the key things.
Growing up. Perhaps the most valuable thing I learned over the year was how to grow up, and fast. I was 20 when I stepped into the office, perhaps even one of the youngest ones there. I was surrounded by adults (well, I was in the real world after all) and was kind of forced to leave my childish ways behind and act like an adult. It’s not that I was immature before, but it’s more like, I had to learn when to chime in with my ‘jokes’ and (bad) puns and learn to let things go.
Responsibility. Kind of intertwined with the previous point, but more so in regards to managing the different aspects of my life running in parallel. When I started work, I had uni, work and basketball all running at the same time. I had to learn to say ‘no’ to social things to refrain from over-working myself and jeopardising my health. I had to make sure that one aspect would not suffer at the cost of another one – nobody told me to, but I promised this to myself.
Ownership. When you’re a kid, you tend to push things back to other people. You screw up an exam, you blame it on the exam being too hard. You end up cramming for an assessment, you claim to have been very busy. You submit a group assignment and receive average results, you blame it on that one group mate that didn’t pull their weight. I’ve learned to take ownership of things delegated and assigned to me. If you say you’ll do it, you better do it. And you’d better do it well. If for some reason people dislike the outcome of your work, you better be prepared to own up to it and don’t pin it on someone else.
Letting things go. One good thing I’ve found from being too tired or too busy to deal with things is that sometimes, you’ve just got to let things go. Maybe it’s one little thing your friend said to you or a family drama or someone getting under your nerves – sometimes it’s just easier to ignore it all. I’m not saying run away from your problems, but merely conserve the energy you would have spent yelling at someone or crying in a corner. You are far too tired to expel energy on such negative things.
You have to make time for the people you love. I have most definitely been more ‘MIA’ in the last 12 months than any other year. I found myself struggling to not only have time, but have energy to meet up with my friends. I found myself constantly cancelling on friends, making excuses not to go out. Somewhere along the way, I realised this was not the way to go, and made it a point to make a genuine effort to see at least my closest friends – especially around their birthdays. Of course, seeing friends isn’t only for catchups – I also found myself having to free up some time to be there for those who were going through difficult times and needed a friend. After all, what good is a career without having people to unwind with?
Letting God do ‘His thing’. I’m naturally an anxious person to begin with, so I pretty much worry about anything and everything. Over the last year, I’ve been put to the test more often than not. I’ve had things not go in my favour and I’ve also had to wait for things to go my way. I guess this ties in with letting go, where my worrying becomes counter-productive. I’ve now learned that sometimes, you’ve got to let God take care of you. As cliche as that sounds, it’s pretty true. There’s no use worrying about the things we cannot change, the things we have control over. We’ve just got to ‘chill’ and leave it all up to Him.
It may seem like these things I’ve said are easy things to learn, or maybe even common sense, but I’ve come a long way since that interview that one Friday in December 2013. And for that, I am eternally grateful for the opportunity.
I’m off work for a couple of days until my contract gets sorted out for the next 12 months. I’m excited to see what’s in store for me this time, and how much more I will learn!