5 life lessons I learned in 5 years at the U of A

Reflecting on the university experiences that made me the person I am today.


As I wrap up my undergrad at the U of A, I have started reflecting on my life and student experiences over the last five years. I look back to when I was an 18-year-old kid entering university and reflect on the experiences that I went through to make me the person I am today. Here are five life lessons that I learned during my five years at the U of A. 

Struggle is a necessary investment for progress

This is just a pretty way of saying that there is no way around hard work–period. Any time I’ve accomplished something, I’ve had to work hard for it–otherwise, what’s the point of being proud? Struggle is where you see progress. It is important to deploy big picture thinking when you ask yourself if what you are going through is worth it or not. Nothing comes easy, there will be struggles along the way to success.

Everyone is just trying to figure it out

No matter what position you are in life, the next steps are daunting. From entering university and being anxious about what was coming ahead, to figuring out if my major was really for me, to looking at what a life post-graduation looks like, I was just trying to figure it out. It won’t just stop at this stage but at every point in life, everyone is just trying to figure it out. 

No one knows you need help until you ask

In the past, I thought that I needed to struggle on my own in order to make something of myself and avoid “bothering” people at all costs. I have learned there is no need to suffer in silence. Talking about our problems even casually can be therapeutic, but the ones around us can always provide interesting solutions to our problems. No matter what, no one will understand what you are going through or in what ways you need help without communicating your problems.

Adopt a child's mentality

I remember a Kobe Bryant quote where he called us to adopt a child’s mentality in the sense that we always need to be curious and never forget the “why” in everything. Taking this mentality and always asking questions is what opens doors in life. 

Be grateful and happy

I’ve realized that you won’t be happy until you are grateful. We live in a world where there is a constant desire to have more than what you currently have. We tend to always be looking upwards, but sometimes forget the most important things in our lives. Health, relationships and basic necessities should be a given, but aren’t always a guarantee. I am not dismissing anyone's problems or the fact that it is always good to improve your own life, but our problems can sometimes seem trivial when we compare them to the basics. There is a lot to be grateful for.

About Nathaniel

Nathaniel is a fifth year BA student double majoring in Economics and Political Science as well as double minoring in Philosophy and International Studies and has completed the Arts Work Experience Program. He is passionate about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and serves as the student representative on the Arts CEDI committee. Nathaniel enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, binge watching Netflix and playing basketball in his spare time.