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Learning to Pat Yourself on the Back

Learning to Pat Yourself on the Back

By Suhel Singh Randhawa, Editor 

Getting to university is a landmark move in a person’s life. Having successfully completed 12+ years of general education, you are now ready to go and pursue training that will enable you to pursue your dreams. You are now adults (most of you), some living away from their families, some still with them, some have left their families halfway across the world and come here in hopes of a better life. It's a time of hope and new beginnings. 

But at the same time, you will also realise that it's just you. You have your people; your family, friends, your partner, your classmates. But in the end, it's still just you. This realisation is often a rude awakening from what was a dream we lived in for 18 years of our life. And that dream is one that showed us that we will be supported, by at least one person, all our lives. 

At the risk of sounding Nihilistic, I will say that at the end of the day, we are alone. As individuals, as minds, as sovereign beings, we are alone. We are unique, yes. But that’s also the root cause of our loneliness. It’s like being a traveller. You start your journey with some people, you lose them. You meet some people on the way, some stay and some leave. At the end of your journey, you may be alone, or you may have company. But throughout this journey, the only constant was you. You stayed with yourself in the good times, and persevered through the bad times. It was you, the presence of others wasn’t guaranteed, but yours was. 

Through the joys and sorrows of life henceforth, you will often find yourself alone, more frequently on occurrence of the latter. Your success would at times not be celebrated by others, even those that are close to you. You may not have a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to when you’re down. It’s important to balance needing people and being there for yourself. When you’re left to fend for yourself and manage your troubles, you must learn to keep your head up and persevere, or take a moment to step back and ponder about yourself and your troubles in a constructive way. When you feel that no one is appreciating your wins, take time to celebrate on your own. Treat yourself with some gifts, take a walk through the city and visit some cafes, or even reward yourself with a rest day. 

But at the same time, you must also appreciate people. Human beings are social animals. We function in a society. We communicate with each other. We complement each other. When you have friends and family, appreciate them. Appreciate the support you get from them, offer the same support to them. Sometimes they may not be able to help you because they have struggles of their own, and it’s fine. Empathise with them. Sometimes they may not help you because they don’t want to. And it’s fine too, because such people are not assets to you, they are not your friends. Either way, you realise who really loves you. In such cases, you need to be strong enough to carry your own weight and support yourself. 

The world can be a beautiful place and a horrible nightmare. That’s an unfortunate reality. You must appreciate both aspects of life, good and bad. 

Akbar, a famous emperor of the Mughal dynasty of South Asia once asked his trusted advisor Birbal, “Tell me a sentence that will make me sad when I am happy, and happy when I am sad.” After a minute of thought, Birbal said, “This too shall pass.” 

We often discount what we have and how happy or content we are when we have everything, and fail to appreciate all that we have. And on the other hand, we overestimate the suffering we may be going through, thus further adding to our gloom. Whenever you’re down, always remember this: You have been here before, and you made it through. Keep your head up. 

Appreciate the good and learn from the bad. But in the bad times, it's easy to fall back, go down, fall into bad habits. So you must learn to be there for yourself, learn to love yourself, learn to recognise your own worth, and learn to pat yourself on the back. 

Suhel Singh Randhawa profile photo

About the author  

Hi everyone, my name is Suhel Singh Randhawa and I am the editor of LA&PS Voices. I am a third year international student from Panjab, working towards a degree in finance.  

I am fascinated by mankind’s ability to translate emotions and thoughts into visible and tangible forms of art, my favourite of which is writing. I write to express my thoughts, I write to make a change. Beyond writing, my interests lie in literature, history, philosophy, working out, cycling, and travelling.