Purpose is a massive thing, right?  The question of why we’re at uni doesn’t always have a straight forward answer.  So, we tend to get sucked in by the what and the how because that’s where all the action happens, but the why?  Well, that should be the fuel.

In this TED talk by Simon Sinek he talks about the golden circle.  Instead of jumping into what and how, and hoping the why will appear one magical day in the future—why is the first step.  Let’s see if we can relate it to our university experience.

golden circle

What’s the what

We’re going to uni—funny that.  We’re deciding on a degree, choosing a major (or majors), finding courses that strike our fancy—and fit our major (or majors!).  We’re going to classes, labs, tutorials (or not?).  We’re writing assignments, doing presentations, taking tests, and sitting exams.  If you’re like me, you’re then changing your major and doing different courses and changing your major again?!

Then, there’s all the other stuff—the juggling.  Flat responsibilities, work responsibilities, health, social, and family responsibilities.  There are a lot of whats!  This doesn’t even include all the things we often ignore when we’re stuck in that cycle of study/work/eat/Netflix/sleep/study/work/eat/Netflix/sleep.  We ignore the fact that we’re learning, we’re growing.  We forget that uni should be challenging and, instead, keep searching for the easy road.

We don’t acknowledge the fact that we’ve never done this before—that it’s really hard, but we’re making mistakes and learning and growing.  And that’s okay.

How the heck

Good question.  The how will vary, depending on the student.  How are you?  Are you—

  • A front-rower—student rep, ask lots of questions, do all (or most!) of the readings and attend group study sessions?
  • An in-betweener—skip a few classes, hand in assignments just in time, skim the readings at the start of the class and answer questions when you have to?
  • A back-rower—attend the odd class, don’t know where the library is and cram for exams the night before?
  • A no-shower—first time we see you is at the exam?

These are obviously very extreme examples and you may or may not relate to just one, but the point is that what we’re doing is dramatically effected by how we do it—and, likewise, our how is completely and utterly driven by our why.  If you’re a front-rower, your why is going to be a helluva lot different than if you’re a no-shower.

How do you want to be?

Find your why

When you’re thinking about skipping your lecture?  Think—why are you here?  When you’re sitting on FB in class?  Why are you here?  When you’re struggling to write a 2,000 word critical analysis on the impact of climate change on the internet habits of millennials studying political science and pre-Victorian English literature?





And, I don’t mean why are you here, like why are you even here?  You should be somewhere else.  No.  I mean why are you here, as in you’re here—why?  There’s a reason you chose to come to university—there has to be, it’s not a commitment you make lightly.  It’s bloody hard work!  Just like being human—it’s not a walk in the park.

And it shouldn’t be.  We should be constantly striving to grow and learn and be good humans because that’s what living is.  And, then, when we do walk in the park, we’re happy, fulfilled, productive humans going for a walk in the park.

An important thing to remember is that your why is never set in stone.  Just as life, our only constant is change, so we need to be gentle and flexible with ourselves, and allow change to happen as we do.  And when we lose one why, we always be sure to pick up another to keep us going.

Because it’s our fuel.