The things taught in schools & colleges are not an education but the means of education — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Schools provide us the platform to emerge as a student and flourish as a responsible adult. But sometimes I wish that I had known some of the things I have learned the hard way a bit earlier. Therefore these few things should definitely be taught in school.
In high school, I was a piss poor student.
Upon entering high school I could immediately tell that this was not the game that I was going to win in life. Some kids got straight A’s… and I could tell that I wasn’t going to be one of those kids.
I invested as little energy as I could into my school work to get passing grades, and decided to dedicate the majority of my attention towards women and dating.
For some reason, even at that age, I knew that the education and self-awareness that I would receive through intimate relationships would pay dividends later on in life.
While I don’t regret for a second having half-assed it in biology class, there are a few things that I desperately wish had been taught to me in my formative school years.
Here they are, in no particular order.
1. All forms of sexuality are normal
The sexual education that we receive in our years of required education is quite abysmal. While I was generally satisfied with the amount of knowledge I got from elementary and high schools regarding sex (along with what my parents taught me in the same years), a whopping 33% of people in the US between the ages of 18 to 29 reported not having any sex ed in high school.
Whatever you enjoy sexually will be unique to you. There are billions of people on the planet and there are also billions of different sets of sexual preferences.
While media/mass marketing efforts would have you believe that there is a very narrow set of acceptable things that you’re allowed to like, in reality, you’re allowed to like it all.
Do you enjoy soft, slow lovemaking, 100% of the time? Go for it.
You love being bitten, spanked, held down, and ravaged? That’s fine too.
You get off on speaking in a whiny little girl/boy voice while your partner has sex with you? All the power to you.
Whatever makes your nether regions tingle, it’s all fine and acceptable.
2. Take the stairs, not the escalator
We live in a world of instant gratification. In many ways, this is beautiful and so much fun.
- Want some food? There are places in the world where you can click the play button on a website, and a flying drone will deliver an avocado to your doorstep.
- Want a boyfriend/girlfriend? You can swipe right on Tinder, go on a date tonight, and literally find yourself in a relationship within a week of having the thought.
We live in ridiculously amazing times. But this culture of instant gratification comes at a cost. When we don’t have to work for our outcomes, our self-esteem and sense of self-efficacy suffer. Our self-esteem is born of our actions. And if we increasingly have to DO nothing in order for our results to form, then we will increasingly lack any depth of character.
Put simply, in order to be healthy, happy, well-adjusted individuals, sometimes we need to struggle.
We have to intimately know the tension of wanting something and not having it quite yet. We have to know and enjoy the climb. We have to fall in love with the journey itself.
I strongly advocate for the mindset of ‘take the stairs, not the escalator.’ In other words, if there are two options ahead of you and one is overly easy, and the other will require a genuine effort, it’s usually better to engage in the set of behaviors that will challenge you.
It takes heat and pressure to make diamonds. Rocks in a rock tumbler eventually become smooth, precious gemstones from banging into each other. The hard path eventually leads to an easy life, and the easy path eventually leads to a hard life. And other cliches about struggling to be a necessary part of life.
The gap between doing honest, hard work in your life and constantly taking the shortcuts and immediate gratification is the gap between feeling like a resilient bad ass who can handle anything that comes their way in life, and being a person who is constantly terrified that their life is about to collapse and they won’t have any say in the matter.
I am not saying that you should seek out suffering arbitrarily. You don’t need to whip yourself through life. I am simply saying that you should be conscious of whether or not your life is entirely void of struggle. Because if it is, then you will be worse off for it.
3. Invest in your emotional self-care
Alright, now we’re getting into the juicy stuff. This point and the next one are, personally, my biggest ‘HOW WERE WE NOT TAUGHT THIS STUFF IN SCHOOL!?’ realizations in life.
Maybe you had a drastically different schooling experience than I did, but I was taught approximately zero minutes of education on stress management, emotional processing, and targeted self-awareness.
I remember constantly wondering as an especially anxious teenager about questions such as:
- How does one relax?
- How do I make friends with my emotions?
- What should I do with my life?
- How do I access my tears?
- Is it okay that I feel angry sometimes?
Can you imagine the ripple effect of a generation of people being mandated to learn more about their feelings? To increase their vocabulary and felt experiences of their internal thoughts and emotions? My guess is that the divorce rate, number of suicides, and instances of sexual assault would drop dramatically within a decade.
I believe deeply in this world vision. I believe in a future reality where at least 20% of secondary school classes are more akin to group therapy than they are to prisons solely focused on skill development.
Put an honest effort toward this area of knowledge. Speaking from experience, you will go so much further in life if you know how to anticipate periods of stress and nip them in the bud before they take you down.
4. Everything is a job
One of my greatest fears during my schooling years was that one day in the future, there would come a time when the ‘real world’ started and I would have to choose one of approximately ten jobs to engage in.
Doctor, lawyer, electrician, bus driver, tradesman….. here they are, take your pick. That’s all you get.
Granted I went to high school during years when high-speed internet access (and computers at all) were only just starting to become commonplace… so many of the jobs that are options now didn’t exist for people on a mass scale.
But if there’s one thing I would impress upon a crowd of high schoolers if I were to give a 30-minute talk as of today, it would be on this exact topic. Absolutely everything is a job. And this isn’t just some pie-in-the-sky idealistic thinking anymore.
Right now, in my life, I intimately know people whose jobs are:
- Writing a new short book every month on a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction topics, and making over $20,000 per month (US dollars) doing it.
- Selling beautiful custom built wooden furniture to small businesses
- Releasing daily YouTube videos about how to live a masterful life
- Putting out podcast episodes about different people’s experiences with anxiety
- Hosting weekend-long retreats in beautiful, sunny locations around the world, and teaching people how to eat healthier and cook for themselves in a time-efficient and nutrient-dense manner
- Writing articles and books about sex, relationships, anxiety, depression, emotional processing, spiritual development, kindness, and overall life intentionality… and holding people’s hearts around the world via Skype calls
And if those jobs are all accessible, lucrative options… well then, everything is a job.
My guidance counselor never sat me down and told me, ‘Jordan, when you grow up… over 10,000 people every day from around the world are going to read your articles … so make sure you’re dedicating your studies towards that.’
No, I just sat down with my heart… asked it what it wanted to do as a career… and then I started putting dedicated, progressive action towards making that my life’s reality.
Long story short… whatever you want to do with your life, it is an option. Hard work and persistence will get you there. Just make sure you check in with your heart before you set off on the path.
Dedicated to your success,
Written by: Jordan Gray Originally appeared on: Jordan Gray Consulting