10 Life Lessons You Learn In The Real World, Not In School

mbg Contributor By Shannon Kaiser
mbg Contributor
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment including The Self-Love Experiment, Adventures for Your Soul, and Joy Seeker. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Communications from the University of Oregon.

When you're in school, everything feels super important. Many people worked toward a degree, and every effort in school was designed to get you out into the “real” world so you could finally become successful, happy and financially free.

But after graduating and entering the working world, people often see that things aren't always what they seem.

Most people, especially when they're in school, cheat on their present with our future. This means that they focus so much on the future and getting “there” that they miss out on the present and fully being “here.” Even though college is often an enjoyable experience, it's the end goal that serves as motivation.

Go back and visit your recently graduated self. What message would you have? Maybe you would have words of wisdom for your younger self. Perhaps you might remind yourself any of these life lessons you learn after you graduate.

To put things into a little perspective, I wish my younger self knew that some things didn’t matter as much as others. Sometimes the best way make the most of life is to reflect and pause in the life lessons learned so far.

Here are things you realize after you graduate:

1. You still don’t have it figured out, and that's OK.

Many people think that when they graduate, they’ll be graced with instant clarity and acute focus. But in the “real” world, everyone is just figuring it out. Well into your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s, things are still evolving and falling into place. Life is an evolution of changes; you can reinvent yourself and change your mind at any time, and it’s OK. Learning who you are is a lifelong journey, and a radical adventure at that.

2. The older you get, the harder it is to change a habit.

When you're young, you take for granted nonchalant habits and change quickly when you desire. As you age, your brain is hard-wired to fall back on habits, and it is harder to change—much harder. You get set in your ways. Be honest with yourself; if there's a habit you want to change, it’s never too late. Just be patient, as the change is harder to make the older you get.

3. Burned bridges stay with you for life.

In college, it may have been easy to talk behind your roommate’s back, or start an “I hate my ex” club. But when you graduate, you realize how important all relationships are. A burned bridge will stay with you forever, and you quickly learn forgiveness is the most essential tool for success. Who can you forgive today?

4. Your beliefs aren't as important as your behavior about those beliefs.

Your beliefs and values are important to you, but how you act and talk to others about what you believe in is more important than the actual belief. Treat others with kindness and respect no matter how different their views are. Contrast can bring clarity.

5. The more you believe in yourself, the less you need the approval of others.

You don’t need to lean on others for support. When you have a dream or goal, the most important thing is that you believe in yourself. People are going to tell you it can’t be done, but when you connect with you own dreams, you'll be unstoppable.

6. Almost everything is simple, but not always easy.

As you age, you begin to learn most everything is relatively simple. You recognize that you don’t have to work so hard or worry so much, things seem to fall into place, but learning this and accepting it as truth is never easy.

7. People and situations in your past were never random.

You quickly learn how everything is connected. Instead of looking at your life as a random experience and unconnected occurrences, start to see that life isn’t happening to you, but actually it is happening for you.

8. Sometimes not getting what you want is the biggest blessing of all.

Everything is part of a larger plan. Rejection is actually protection.

9. Everything tends to work out the way it's supposed to.

College isn’t where you find yourself. Once you graduate and enter the working world, you realize you're still changing, growing, becoming more of who you really want to be. You probably stress about things that are out of our control. As you age, you learn that the things you used to worry about turned out fine. In life, things always work out the way they're supposed to, so there's no need to worry.

10. You need to trust yourself much sooner.

That major that felt off, the relationship that seemed to be a struggle, the food that made your stomach turn were all little nudges that things were off. Learning to trust yourself is something that will help you feel more free. Stop fighting yourself and trust your gut instincts. Trust your heart — it knows what your head has yet to figure out.

To make your own life lesson list grab this FREE Love Your Life to The Fullest Guide.

Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment...
Read More
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Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser
Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of 5 books on the psychology...
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