That’s right, I have a degree.
But here’s the thing, the more I bask in the glory of this significant achievement, the more I realise just how insignificant it is. That is, unless I use it.
I’ve started to realise that life follows patterns. The colours and the materials differ (aka, circumstances), but the stitching of the patterns remain surprisingly consistent in this seemingly untamed tapestry we call life. Many life lessons I learnt in school I’ve been able to apply in tertiary education, and many things I learnt in developing my skill as a musician, I’ve been able to apply in church, sport and work. Often it’s easy to treat each different sphere of your life completely separately, as they engage varying skills sets, but I’ve come to appreciate that what you learn in one area of life can benefit you in other areas of life when you make the effort to apply it; and it’s the accumulation of all these lessons, how you react, interact and implement them, that builds your character and defines you as a person.
So today I want to outline some lessons that I’ve talked about in previous articles that have applied to music, art and creativity, and how I’m currently realising they apply to more of life. This first lesson is something that I’m learning rapidly as I take my first tentative steps into the ‘real world’ with the new weight of a pretty little degree sitting comfortably under my belt.
It’s not what you have; it’s what you do with what you have
As I said at the start, the more I bask in the glory of this degree, all the effort it has taken to obtain such an accolade, the more I realise it is only as good to me as I let it be. For example, a beautifully made sword, strong and sharp, is only valuable to a warrior if he takes it to battle and uses it. Likewise, a degree is only as valuable to me as what I use it for. This is a lesson I originally learnt while practising my instruments – my God-given talent of music is only honoured if I practice and develop my skill, and actually make music.
Therefore, one could say the outflow is more important than the in-flow. With money, it doesn’t matter how much you make, it matters more what you use it for. In art, no matter how much talent God has blessed you with, where and how that talent flows out of you is what defines how good of a steward you’ve been. Also with relationships, we all get dealt different hands and we often can’t at all control what happens to us or how people treat us, but we can control how we react and how we treat others. Because it’s not what you have; it’s what you do with what you have that matters most.
Which leads me to my next point.
Discipline is a discipline
Let me introduce you to a theory of mine called “The Tidy Room Theory”. That theory is this: I believe that the tidiness of one’s room is directly related to the order (or lack thereof) of one’s life. Now, it takes discipline to tidy your room, right? It also takes discipline to exercise regularly and eat healthy, right? And of course it takes discipline to meet deadlines and hand in work on time, right? All correct. So it takes discipline to maintain most things in life, but what many people don’t realise is that discipline itself is a skill. You can get better at it, and you can get worse at it. So to develop the continuous discipline of keeping one’s room tidy, I believe will benefit handing in assignments in on time or completing work regularly. This is because when you develop discipline in one area, you’re building mental strength and will-power which you can apply in any other area you want to. So next time you have a ‘cheat day’ on your diet and splurge on junk food, view it holistically and be aware that you’re weakening your own ability to discipline yourself, and that will affect you in almost every other area of life. Because discipline is a discipline, it can be developed stronger or become weaker. So keep your room tidy!
Well, here I am, having just completed my degree, and I find myself with the whole world in front of me, endless possibilities and dreams, all a blank canvas waiting to be painted. But I realise now that everything that I had to learn to make it here, I now have to implement to move beyond here. But there’s the one thing that I can never stop doing, even as I leave formal education, this student-bubble in which I have been living for the past 17 and half years, and that is this: never stop learning.
Daniel J. Mathew has just completed a Bachelor of Music at Sydney’s Wesley Institute and serves as a volunteer in the youth ministry of Hillsong Church, City Campus.
Daniel Mathew's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-mathew.html