“Where can an Arts degree take you?”

I’ve heard this question asked many times.

While I don’t have all the answers, I can proudly say that I have arrived at the last week of my university career.

Of course, half of my subjects in university are weird, theoretical, and philosophical stuffs that perhaps will go down the drain one day. Or have already been in the drain. But I’m a student, there must be some lessons learned.

Three years in university are not long at all. Believe me first year students, you’ll wear that regalia soon enough.

Of course, I have made a lot of mistakes. And if I can redo all these years again I would do things differently. But this morning I have a wake-up call from a friend who commented on one of my posts: “You’re allowed to make mistakes. It’s all part of growing up.”

While it’s nice to get things right the first time around, I will not grow up as a result. I will be a different person, and perhaps, not as mature. I have realised that those mistakes are there for the better.

So these are the lessons learned after three years of doing lots of presentations, essays, lab reports, case studies, articles, and exams.

Having a community that you can hang out and have fun with, while challenging you to grow is irreplaceable.

1. Choose your friends wisely.

Good community will make you grow, while a bad one will just drain you out – that’s not a philosophy, that’s the reality. Over the years I have realised that going out with some people will just naturally turn me to a nagging, negative, and obnoxious being while others will inspire, mentor, and challenge me to become better.

While you need to be friends with everyone, not everyone will make you a better person. Yes, you can’t afford to be picky, but to be choosy? It’s a must.

2. Whatever you spend your time doing, remember, you are investing in it.

I started blogging not even as a hobby; I started it out of curiosity of where can practice in writing takes me to. And I’m polishing my skills as a result. If you read my writing two years ago it wouldn’t look as sound as it is now.

So whether you are daydreaming, playing games, gossiping, taking photos, or cooking, remember that these times are being invested into something. Time is all you have. And one day you may realise that it’s not much at all.

3. Head fakes exist.

If you are not familiar with head fakes, it means doing something but learning another, as popularised by Randy Pausch. I might come to university to learn about globalisation, postmodernism, child development, and personality traits, but the fundamentals are the best lessons of all.

I learn how to think critically. I learn how to do statistics. Now, I think twice of a statement and not take things as granted. I learn how to argue, debate, and present my opinions in a way that’s backed up by research. I learn about the importance of responsibility, time management, and having a support system.

The one lesson learned 

Of course, it’s impossible to cram down three years of experience into a 800-word post. But at the end of the day, if you need to walk away with one thing that I learn in university, it’s that I learn to be conscious in making choices.

You are what you choose to be. As Dumbledore says, “It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, more than our abilities.” Likewise, everything I have done in university is a series of choices. I’ve made some bad and good ones, and that’s okay.

Be conscious of what choice you make every single day. Because a decision to do something is a decision not to do another. I am not hoping that we make the right choice every single time, but I’m hoping that we will learn to choose rightly. It’s a part of growing up anyway.

And truth is, not everything will go as you expected. But you know what? It might turn out to be better.

I will miss my university years – all my friends and mentors who have invested so much in me, the hours spent having coffee and skipping classes, the days when we smile, laugh, cry, and having an overdose of adrenaline – I will miss them all.

But as I turn to a new chapter, I know a lot more challenges and memories will be forged. And guess what? I think, it’s for the better.

And you know what? I’ll get somewhere! I’m a proud Arts graduate, after all.

Dreaming new dreams. Photo by Tjokro Aminoto.

With much love from the deepest part of my heart, dedicated to all people who have crossed my path,

To my parents who love me endlessly, subsidising my studies and living expenses,
To my sisters who keep on encouraging me and make my life colourful,
To my friends who see me as worthy enough to be a part of your journeys,
To my mentors who genuinely believe in me,

 Thank you. You all have given me courage to pursue my dreams, and happiness to lighten up my dark days.

Marcella Purnama, BA (Psychology & Media and Communication), Writer.