I’m not going to lie to you. Everything you do in school is not going to follow you for the rest of your life. Your grades won’t define your future, those certificates will stay piled up in your cupboard, your friend group might not stay together, and you’ll never use calculus to figure out your finances.
When I graduated high school, I wondered, should I have put so much effort into extracurriculars? Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so many years in the Student Council, putting hours of effort into drafting minutes of meetings, writing emails, organizing my team, and being a bridge between students and teachers. When all this hard work couldn’t get me into the university that I dreamt of, what was the point of the hustle?
The answer came to me in little revelations. Putting effort into activities and extracurriculars does pay off. Whether it be a painting competition you participated in, organizing a sports event, or running a literature club, it makes a difference. I cannot guarantee that extracurriculars will help you get into university. But in a few years, you’ll realize how much it transformed you as a person.
A few months after I started university, I found it very easy to put myself in new environments that would otherwise seem daunting. I could easily market my skills and manage my time productively. Furthermore, I was open to opportunities that came my way.
Working with a team at school events is an opportunity to figure out what you want in your future career. Almost all activities in school are unpaid, but they help you grasp the idea of intrinsic motivation or satisfaction. You learn what motivates you apart from money and this can be the key to success in your life. It’s a chance to invest time and effort in the things that interest you.
In fact, some aspects of our personality stay hidden until we challenge them. We’re meant to get out of our comfort zone and take chances. Putting yourself in tough situations doesn’t make you a bad decision-maker. It means you’re willing to see yourself grow and have faith in yourself. Confidence doesn’t come on its own. Having faith in yourself and your skills can tap into your true potential.
While clubs and organizations do so much to help you learn about yourself, they also help you learn how to interact with others. Extracurricular activities and student leadership keep you constantly in touch with your peers and teachers, whether you like it or not. Even text messaging or email help you develop a style of communication that sets you apart. You learn the dos and don’ts of interacting with people who work with you and the people you work for.
Furthermore, if you become a leader in an organization or group, you learn additional skills. Leadership is NOT about being the best in your team. A good leader can recognize their teammates’ abilities and push them to do their best. Extracurriculars can help you learn these skills and even notice them in others. Being a good leader also teaches you to be responsible and accountable for your actions and decisions. Managing an event or participating in a competition with a team is a completely different experience than a group project. You will notice that the people you form teams with are motivated to perform better since they’re doing it out of their free will. You will also find certain people you cannot stand, but trust me on this: It helps you figure out ways to deal with people you don’t like.
With all that communication, you also learn to manage conflicting interests and priorities. High school does this thing where you’re packed with everything: exam preparation, the biggest competition of the year, and a charity drive all at once. It can also give you a taste of multi-tasking: Learning to manage your academics and perform activities outside of that sphere is a very underrated skill.
Assume that you’re part of a school club. That experience can answer so many questions you wouldn’t otherwise know. What kind of people get along with each other? What leadership style is necessary when your club isn’t doing well? What is the best way to assign duties? How do you deal with freeloaders? Do you need to stay back at school to finish decorating the auditorium or is there someone you can assign it to? How will you finish your artwork due Saturday when you have a big test the day after? Simply being a part of a larger organization can give you so many insights into how people work.
School may be a nightmare for some, but we need to realize good things don’t come on a silver platter. The subjects you study in school today may not even be relevant by the time you graduate and start working. Instead, look for creativity in yourself and around you. Learn from the people you admire and stay open-minded. Invest time in yourself and your abilities. I assure you, it will make a difference.
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