September 12, 2016 is going to be etched my memory forever. On one hand, I was all packed and ready to fly off to the UK to begin a new phase in my life at Oxford, while on the other, I was trying to deal with the sad, untimely and unfortunate demise of my best friend’s mom minutes before my flight. The last 24 hours have been filled with such mixed emotions, it’s hard to express in words. The guilt of not being able to be there in these testing times with my best friend, a gem of a person who has been part of every laugh and tear for the past 24 years, has been consuming me. At the same time, the excitement of moving to a new country, miles away to pursue my dream has been overwhelming.
In times like these, I realise how unpredictable life can be. I want to take this opportunity to remind myself, my classmates and every future MBA aspirant some very simple things in life, which we often forget.
1. Count your blessings every day. For being blessed with a great family that has supported and will continue to support every decision you’ve taken in your life; for your friends who have been there for you at every step in your life (and in my case, even reading and re-reading my MBA application until it was perfect); for your teachers/professors who taught you so much so early and encouraged you to never settle for anything mediocre; and of course, for that ever loving and supporting partner who has always cheered you up when you were low or put up with you no matter how unreasonable you were!
2. Life is too short, so make time for your loved ones. In a few weeks from now you will be consumed with classes, assignments, events, job searches and a million other things. In a year from now, you will be a high-flying consultant, investment banker or a CEO with little or no time for our friends and family. Even in your 18-hour busy schedule try to squeeze in that coffee with your best friend, that Skype call with your parents or just plan that surprise party for your partner.
3. Do not take your health for granted. This is something my mom always reminds me. Instead of praying for fame and prosperity, pray for good health. It’s only when you are (physically and mentally) healthy, can you achieve your goals and in turn that fame and prosperity. So spend a few hours every week playing your favourite sport or go for that jog you have been procrastinating or just eat that healthy salad you’ve been avoiding or simply just meditate for a few minutes.
4. It’s great to be competitive but it’s even greater to be appreciative and collaborative. During the MBA, you’ll come across a ton of people a lot smarter, a lot more articulate and a lot more experienced than you are. That’s ok. Don’t be intimidated. Talk to those people. Make friends with people who are different from you. Use the opportunity to learn from all those incredible people. After all, where else will you find an opportunity to be with such a distinguished and diverse lot.
5. And finally, learn to let go. Don’t hold those grudges. Don’t stress over those insignificant things. Don’t cry over those small setbacks or that initial failure. Life’s too worthwhile to brood and drive yourself insane. Take it as a learning experience and move on. In five years from now, you can either be stuck in the same place lamenting or be something incredible. It’s a matter of choice!
It’s possibly harder said than done. But I’m going to constantly remind myself (and urge everyone else) to follow this simple checklist for a happy and fulfilling life ahead.
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