“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” -Ghandi
I was a type A, ambitious young lady who graduated high school with seven “5’s” on her AP tests (and three “4’s”). I had a ridiculously high GPA. I went straight into UCLA as a Biochemistry major with a scholarship for pre-med and a mother who had a dream that I would cure cancer one day.
In other words, I was good at following rules, a quick learner, and strangely competitive. I followed the path that I saw laid out for me ahead. I wasn’t really pushed (besides the occasional mention of future greatness from my mother) but I had an internal drive to just keep going and to get to my destination faster (and better) than anyone else. I never paused to ask myself where I was going or why I was doing it.
Fast forward 4 years later, I graduated UCLA with Departmental Honors. B.S. in Biology, minor in Anthropology. I did well in all my pre-medicine classes but after an incident with a rat in lab, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be a doctor. After a couple years working as a Anthropology research assistant, I was also pretty sure I didn’t want to do solely research either. So…you might ask…how would I use my degree??? GOOD QUESTION.
UCLA has opened so many doors for me. That degree is a badge showing my commitment to learning, my hard work…and my stubbornness. I am forever grateful for that. I learned how to critically think, how to question everything, how to work more efficiently, how to be independent. From the Biology realm, I learned about the beauty of tropical forests, the complexity of ants, the adaptability of a sprouting plant. I learned the importance of conservation. I learned how to start caring about our planet. From the Anthropology realm, I learned just as much. I learned so much about humans: stories from the past, stories about the present, and stories explaining the possible future. I gained a deeper appreciation for different cultures as well as a fuller understanding of human nature.
(On the recreational side, UCLA also introduced me to rock climbing, hiking, and DANCE)
I will always be proud to be a BRUIN and always be appreciative of all the opportunities my education has allowed me.
I now know that there is so much more to life than the fast-paced, straight-ahead trajectory. Although society pressures us to keep to that path, we should be confident in our freedom to stray. Straying from that path can lead to self discovery. It can lead to new-found passions; it can lead to a happier life.
It’s okay to graduate from high school and go straight into a 4-year university. But, it’s also okay to take a few years off to travel before college. And, it’s okay to completely skip college and go an alternate route of learning!
THROUGH YOGA, I discovered the importance of all the in betweens of life. Having an end goal, the future “accomplishment” (eg. graduating, getting a promotion, buying a house), is great but shouldn’t overshadow the journey to get there. I focused so much on earning good grades in all subjects in school, that I sometimes sacrificed my passion for certain subjects. I couldn’t take more art classes because then…I couldn’t fit in all 6 AP classes that year! ha. And in college, I often would skip going to class (no attendance taken) so that I could get readings done in time for an assignment or study for a quiz. I wish I would have went to class, asked questions, and soaked in all the professor’s knowledge that I could have. I wish I would have chosen more classes not because they were required but because they were interesting. Because, like I said, the journey is just as important if not moreso. I ended up graduating with Honors on my degree…but was it worth it? I’m not sure!
I try to live more in the moment now. I still have a planner and a calendar with tasks and goals all written out, but I try to not stress about it all so much. If certain plans don’t work out, just do it tomorrow or go a different route!
Currently, I’m exploring multiple paths. I’m enjoying the in betweens and studying new subjects.
I enjoy learning so I take my pick of online classes through the local community college every quarter. I have a loose goal of getting a certificate in Computer Science and maybe one day getting a Master’s Degree (I like programming…weird, huh?).
I joined a dance team. I learn choreography every week. I learn how to connect with others through body language. I learn how to let go and flow with the music.
I also teach yoga. Putting together class sequences is fun. I also like helping people. Whether a student has back pain or just tight hamstrings, I want to help alleviate their problems! Everyday I learn something new from my students.
Right now I’m beginning to put together my passion and talents. Passion: I love creating (programming, dancing, teaching!). I love learning. And, I love using natural products. I just want to know what I’m putting on my skin or breathing in is nourishing and healthy. Talents: I have a science degree and am good at lab work & research. I don’t just love creating, but I’m pretty decent at it too. So now, I’m making these organic lip balms, candles, lotions, etc and spreading the goodness around!
Takeaway: Continue to learn and remember that education can come in many forms. Also, enjoy the journey that you’re on. Sacrificing your happiness today for the hopes of a brighter, happier tomorrow is okay when necessary…but it shouldn’t be your motto in life. As Gandhi stated, “Live as you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”