Hello! To all those who are studying in school or those out of it, who take and see life as a life long learning– Oh boy don’t I have a question for you. It’s really simple but really cuts to the core of your actions : to who do you really study for ?
For a future job prospect? because your parents told you to ? Cause your teachers told you to? Because it’s what society expects ? If you had to put a percentage on a pie chart how much of the things do you study are things that you do for yourself? How small or big is that ?
How does that feel?
Ever since I can remember I had these two voices in my head in the entirety of my student life. I call them Student A and Student B.
Student A was everything outward oriented. What the curriculum states, what the teacher likes, what performance is expected from and what’s the damn intention of the whole project or school assignment anyway.
This is the voice in my head that says “oh this architectural research paper by sir Mata has the intention of you doing your own research on Philippine architecture, and going on your own learning. and oh by the way that guy loves having really long bibliographies you should do that. and it’s expected to be this long and to be submitted on that date dadadada.”
Student B was everything inward oriented – everything I wanted or just deemed valuable, interesting – or WORTH studying. How it was valuable or related to me.
This was the inner voice that wanted to write an architectural research paper – on the power dynamics of space as illustrated by the famous novels of Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. This was the inner voice that wanted to write and study topics I genuinely cared about, was candidly honest, and took HUGE risks by talking about things that would actually be harder to defend and be unnecessarily provocative. (FYI that paper didn’t get a perfect marks).
BUT. It would actually catch the attention of the teacher. Be a paper I would be proud of writing and actually like discussing. This internal voice of me would feel so special when the professor writes ‘this is a very good and original topic. try to get more published sources though everything is based on interviews ‘ or the lovely ‘that’s one of the most interesting papers I’ve read ever, very good‘ and I would just be over the moon cause the risks paid off. and because I ACTUALLY LIKE AND ENJOYED MY WORK.
There are so many times that you do a straightforward project, for the grade. Cause it’s safe and expected and that’s just how architectural dioramas are done. My student B goes, okay what if you layered multiple acetate and did this post modern trippy mirror thing.
Student A: wouldn’t work
Student B: ———it might???
i loved my little trippy diaroma. it operated under the power of fun.
Now student B doesn’t always win. cause sometimes that guy just goes like:
Student B: Ok I just had an awesome super subtle avante garde idea for your food stall architecture plate but you’ll have to start ALL your drawings and models from scratch a day before deadline
Student A: SHUT UP. NO, PLAY IT SAFE. IT’s more important that all your submissions are complete and well executed, the professor will appreciate your craftsmanship and you can save that idea for later!!! you need to be somehow practical.
Student B: BUT YO, if you angle it this way you’ll see an S. And you’re flower bouquet assignment it’s also gonna look like a light saber.
Student A: OH GOD WE’RE GONNA FAIL. OK FINE we barely passed. DID. YOU HAVE YOUR FUN STUDENT B. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THAT. THAT’S A BREALY PASSED> WE literally could’ve done the decent thing and GOTTEN A B- AT LEAST.
Student B: ok the foodstall idea was a bust and they didn’t really get the light saber.BUT ADMIT IT. YOU WANTED TO MAKE A LIGHTSABER, it was worth it. cmon student A, we can afford barely passing marks i mean–
Student A: YASFLASJNFSA!!RL@nr#P*%#%) G
I would like to admit that it’s healthier to have a mix of the two. Like everything in life having natural opposites, the middle way is always the best. Student A makes sure what you’re doing is practical and is useful and reputable to people beyond you. Student B makes sure you’re heart and soul speaks out.
The only problem is that STUDENT A HAS SOME DUMB-ASS-UNHEALTHY-MONOPOLY in everyone’s minds and hearts. It’s this weird fear oriented ideology that says if you don’t do this, this, this and this you’ll fail, and all the other things that matter to you, that can’t be measured are not in the criteria or curriculum and are now programmatically useless.
I don’t care how much growth you had, or how much more wellbeing and self-love you learned over your absences or delays. I don’t care how standardized and factory like we’re making you all are. Factory is safe and predictable. CONFORM.
How many of us live in a perpetual state of Student A?
Perform for our parents. Marry the guy that they like for you. Get a nice respected and stable job, that are predefined boxes and roles of the perfect child. A+. cum laude. nice car, nice house, pretty family. Money. Have the expected number and kids and don’t do anything remotely out of mainstream expectation or we’ll be burned in the metaphorical stake. Pretend to be happy.
How many of us actually know how to recognize and listen to the voice of Student B? the inner child? the eternal task of actually learning about who we really are ?
Knowing your own values. Knowing your own preferences and non-negotiables. Being clear and honest with what you want even if it’s not commonly acceptable in greater society. Forgiving yourself for being yourself.
Falling in love with yourself and tapping into the well-spring of self-love. Being genuinely interested in things. Making time for things that you’re genuinely interested in but society does not reward or even condemn.
Having fun anyway, doing things unexpectedly. Not giving a fuck about other people judging you when you’re being truly yourself.
Learning how to feel more alive daily. May it be writing poetry or just taking time to get ‘SUCCESSFUL’ at things that you don’t get graded on. Like how good you are at getting a good night’s sleep, how good you are at setting up boundaries, how good are you at appreciating things that you already have or how good you are at expressing thanks.
How happy are you now ?
What makes a good life anyway ? And if you defined it as this that and that shouldn’t you live up to your own criteria? your own curriculum of life? There’s a popular writing prompt for this that just works as well: What do you want people to say in your eulogy ?
Then reverse engineer that statement and see what your Real values are, what’s actually important to you. And stick by those.
Student B is really really hungry.
You should go talk to him, he misses you.
See yeah loves. Also tell me about how your conversation went. I’M NOT A PRINCIPAL HAHAHA.