Lessons from 2 Incredible Years of Stretch Experiences

 

What started off in pre-term feeling very much like a group experience has increasingly become a very individual and personal experience for me. Before Wharton, by conventional standards I had done pretty well in life. But although I had followed a traditional path to “success”, I wasn’t truly happy, or confident about where I wanted to go next. Looking back, I had stuck too much to what I was good at, I hadn’t taken enough risks, and I hadn’t failed enough. I had stopped growing and needed a change. Enter Wharton, and its never-ending menu of stretch experiences.

We all know that familiar feeling. I call it my “someone bring me a helicopter to air lift me out of here and take me home” feeling. For me, some of these moments have been: going down my first ever set of ski slopes in Breckenridge; the first Wharton FC soccer practice I helped run; 3am in our first night in Antarctica when we had just arrived to camp and had no tents or food set up yet; backstage before Bhangra Dance Studio and Fashion Show; and when that first bus of hungry Whartonites arrived at Asado. Throughout my time here I have come to treasure these kinds of experiences as these unpleasant moments are the ones that I look back on the most fondly. They have made ALL the difference and provided me with a few important life lessons.

We are not that special, yet. The fact is, right now, we’re not that special. We’re mostly pretty inexperienced young people who don’t have all that much to offer to the world yet. We CAN all become truly special by working really hard for a long time. Get humble and start doing.

No one has it all figured out. There will always be someone better, but in today’s world, other people’s greener grass on Instagram can seem like the gardens at Versailles Palace at times. Don’t get too wrapped up in what a theoretical and judgmental audience will think and focus on what you have to offer by putting your best foot forward.

Expect to fail. Being wrong and failing is the sign that you’re doing something right. If you only live in the safety zone where you know you can’t mess up, then you’ll never unleash your true potential. Choices that seem poor in hindsight to me are more an indication of growth, rather than self-worth or intelligence. Given that you’re likely to be wrong… the sooner you start making decisions and discover what is right for you the better. The occasional failure is the cost you have to pay if you want to be right. Everything we want out of life is in that huge stack of failure.

Get back up. Any success stories, including ours up to this point, will have lots of luck involved. Although we can’t control luck, we can make it easier for luck to find us. The most useful thing you can do is to stay in the game. If you fail, get back up and keep trying. The universe has plenty of luck to go around, you just need to keep your hand raised until it’s your turn. This framework has helped me see failure more as a road than an obstacle.

Do new things often. Things in life are rarely as scary as they seem. While at Wharton, not only has doing new things slowed down the perception of time, increased my happiness, and kept life interesting, but it has helped me continuously see the world in new ways. There should be no reason why we can’t do something big, new, and risky every year in our personal and professional life.

As much as saying goodbye to Wharton and all of you amazing people will be incredibly painful, as my mother has said to me every time we moved from one country to the next, “if we cry when we say goodbye it means we were happy there and the experience was worth it”.


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