By: Lalaine Chu-Benitez, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Illustrado Magazine 

Ages ago, 20 year old me emerged from my very first job interview flustered and more than just a bit agitated.

There I was, bright eyed and bushy tailed, a fresh graduate of the country’s premiere university – the Alma Mater of 14 Philippine presidents, countless national artists and scientists – a consistent honors student since I was four, who has earned more than my fair share of academic awards in all of my 16 years in school – and I’m being offered a behind-the-counter sales job? Hah! Could anything be more insulting?  My pride bled.

Years later, however, I’ve realized how foolish I have been. Not that that job was for me, but because my silly arrogance was a total and utter sign of ignorance.  The more experienced I have become, the more I have realized how little I really knew back then, despite all those years of excellent academic performance.

It’s a curious thing – most of us would spend anything from 16 to 20, or even more years in school and yet, it is not what we learn within the four walls of the classroom that make us whole or useful human beings.  Because in reality, education – the academic kind, that is, can only make us aware and informed – but not wise.

And as the years pass on, I have come to understand that the best lessons in life are the ones we learn ourselves – in the school called ‘life’.

Here are just a few of those lessons worth learning –

Know how to present yourself in the best possible way – whether in the way you speak, the way you move, dress or present yourself.  Even better, learn to be a decent person – someone who has manners and ‘delicadeza’, who knows how to act appropriately and has concern for other human beings and the world, and an appreciation for the common good.

Learn how to connect with people.  Master the art of small talk, even if it’s just about the weather, because that is the modest start of all good conversations. Learn to embrace diversity and get along with people from all walks of life.  Acquire the skill and art of eloquence.  Your ideas, opinions and impressive intellect are worth nothing if you cannot express yourself and share your thoughts with others.

Understand how the universe works and how to spot greatness and the beauty in small things. Train yourself to cultivate thankfulness and happiness. Learn what it takes to weather storms, and how to keep getting up each time you fall down. Learn how to fly while keeping your feet planted on the ground.

Most of all, discover who you are and what you are meant to do.  Understand your true worth. Build the skill to ask for, demand and negotiate for what you deserve.  Gain the confident stance to walk alone into a room full of people, and the confidence to stand for something you believe in. Find your purpose in life and what you can contribute to the world.

It really is not Math, Science or even highfalutin Calculus that fulfills our natural need for wisdom.  It is both these simple and profound lessons we learn ourselves, the ones that bring us self-realization, facilitates our bonds with others and move us towards fulfillment that make us the whole package.

Poet Oscar Wilde said it so eloquently, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

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