My 2 cents on not giving in to societal pressures.
While I was at the University, my first year was pretty much spent playing and idling away my precious time. I didn’t take classes, assignments, tests or exams seriously; at least not as seriously as “the guys” in my class.
Let’s talk about “these guys“.
They were a set of students in my department who had a track record of scoring strictly A grades in examinations and tests. What was more annoying about them was that regardless of their dedication to their academics, they still had time to party hard and idle away with the rest of us!
The thought and reality of having great academic records while being a “cool kid” tugged at me for months and I made the resolution to be like the cool ones in my class who got the best grades, recommendations, and respect from our lecturers.
Fast forward into my second year at the university, I was eager and ready to stack them As & Bs and also party and hang out as much as I wanted. Much to my expectation, I started to hang out with the smart kids and they immediately liked and accepted me into the clan, but that was only the beginning of the pressure.
Weekdays and weekends, you would find them studying like they had an exam to take the next day; I honestly couldn’t deal. There was really no pressure on me to study so hard, but how do you party or hang out with people you never want to study day and night with? There was always this dark cloud hanging around me every time I failed to show up to read with them, but would always be there to hang out.
As you wouldn’t guess, I stood my ground and created my own less stressful study routine – which pretty much consisted of participating in class activities a lot and only extensively reading 1-2 weeks before tests and exams.
Disclaimer: Do not adopt this unconventional method of study, you might not scale through it like I did. Thank you for your cooperation.
I pretty much flew through the next 2 years of college having these guys as mentors and really good friends. I didn’t exactly stack all A grades every semester, but I did have my fair share of A and B grades and my mama was proud of me just like that. Besides, I was pretty much already blooming as a budding entrepreneur, trying out one business idea or the other while keeping tabs on my academics.
However, trouble started in my finals when I started to nurse the idea of actually graduating with a first class degree just so I could make everyone proud of me. And by everyone, I meant my family, roommates, friends, lecturers, schoolmates and the entire universe that probably didn’t even care if I existed or not.
I started to study more, research more, ask more questions, answer more questions, take tests and term papers a lot more seriously. At that moment, everything was a contributing factor to my dedication and success; I contested elections, volunteered as a class rep. I pretty much even kissed a**, got insulted and ran errands for lecturers I didn’t even like. The struggle.
What happened next?
I got exhausted. I started to lose interest in everything I had gotten knee deep into. I realized I wasn’t thinking at the time of nursing a first class degree desire. What I failed to see was that I was doing a lot more than my colleagues in school; I had 2 active companies at the time, and combining them with all those academic and non-academic efforts were gradually killing me.
What I didn’t consider was that the people with whom I wanted to fly in high colors with only had their academics to worry about at that moment. Only a few of them had active businesses which were mostly carried out in the school environment. I had to do a lot of traveling to attend meetings and keep my businesses afloat as I had already shut down one of them the previous year.
So I stopped.
I didn’t so much care anymore. I stopped reading as much as I used to, I stopped volunteering for extracurricular activities, I applied to start my project afresh on a much simpler scale, I pretty much partied more, some of my friends and lecturers got mad me, didn’t care and I eventually and subconsciously settled for a worthy and stress free Second Class Upper Division degree for graduation.
To cut the long story short, I graduated with a Second Class Upper Division degree and I was more than happy and proud of myself. I bet my mum was proud of me even though she was laid 6 feet below the surface of the earth 4 weeks to my graduation.
It was something that I achieved in comfort and peace, it gave me the room and space to explore other aspects of my life rather than burying my head in textbooks or making the library my nirvana.
I went on to set up 2 more businesses after graduation and I am proud to say that they are doing very well today. My experience afterward made me understand that learning to set up and manage a business was my objective of studying Business Administration in school, not the misconstrued ideology of getting good grades and graduating in flying colors while robbing myself of my little happiness because I fantasized about graduating with a first class degree.
In life, if you cannot get the grades or achieve the things everyone expects you to, get the grades or achievements that you can comfortably get and can boast of, because in the end, your happiness, knowledge, and experience is all you’ve got.
Do not give in to family, peer, academic or societal pressures. Good grades or not, people would still celebrate with you as long as you are doing something worthwhile. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson can testify to this. I repeat, do not give in to societal pressures!