Surviving (verb): Continue to live or exist, esp. in spite of danger or hardship.
Striving (verb): Make great efforts to achieve or obtain something.
Thriving (verb): (of a child, animal, or plant) Grow or develop well or vigorously: "the new baby thrived".
Yup, this is me.
School has been a part of me since before I can remember (for example, this photo). I absolutely loved learning. As the teacher explained our next task, I would sit with bated breath on the literal edge of my seat, ready to jump up and down in celebration. In retrospect, it's a miracle that I rarely fell out of my seat (or that my male peers never pulled my seat out from under me).
I was seriously hungry for knowledge. When I was three or four, my grandma decided to teach me some math. I soaked it in, my eyes wide open (I must have thought that eye width had a direct correlation with the amount of information I could take in). She taught me simple addition. "Okay, what's next?" She taught me borrowing. "Okay, what's next?"
Of course, school was a bit harder than learning simple mathematical computations and tricks from my grandma. When I was about nine years old, I learned that there was a thing called "being smart." The idea was completely new to me. My world began to change -- scores mattered. My fellow students were constantly comparing their scores on their spelling tests, math homework, essays, journal writings...
By the time I was in high school, my perspective and attitude had altered so that grades were my priority. Of course, I'd still spout out facts to my friends. But they'd just laugh at me, saying something how "only I would care about/know something so random." This continued on through my first two years of college. When it came to school, grades were the most important, and learning was second.
Scratch that. When it came to life, grades were the most important. I became so caught up in making sure that I was matching others' expectations, that I wasn't even creating my own.
So often, we focus on achieving goals of status rather than goals of progress.
Forget about obtaining wisdom, forget about growth.
My friends, that is so unbelievably wrong.
In the long run it is the growth, knowledge, and wisdom we achieve that enlarges our souls and prepares us for eternity, not the marks on college transcripts. ...
Learning with the Spirit is not confined to classrooms or preparation for school examinations. It applies to everything we do in life and every place we do it—at home, at work, and at church.An education is not limited to formal study. Lifelong learning can increase our ability to appreciate and relish the workings and beauty of the world around us. - Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Learning and Latter-Day Saints"
We should be seeking to become better friends, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, mothers, and fathers. We should be seeking out our talents and then using them. We should be taking in breaths of the crisp fall air, relishing the crunch of leaves, and smiling when we can feel the warmth of the sun. We should be enjoying the journey.
We really should be striving and thriving, not just surviving.
Let us remember not only the importance but the absolute joy of learning, so that we, too, can sit on the edge of our seats, with bated breath and eyes wide open, smiling and saying, "Okay, what's next?"