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I go back to school in 16 days (if I pass my accounting exam, knock on wood.)

Or rather, I start school in 16 days. I’m done with my bachelor’s degree and am starting my master’s. I do intend to write a longer post later, to sum up my first four years at SSE, but I do need to study some more before that.

It feels strange to start though (and to go back.) It’s been a very tough couple of years and sometimes I wonder what I’ve learned, really. Did I accomplish everything I though I would when I started college?
(Nope.)

At the same time, it’s exciting. The thought of new challenges. Travels. New people. It’s also a comfort to know not everything will be new, there are people I know, I know the buildings, where to eat lunch, all those things that take up energy if you don’t know them.

The program I will attend is a completely new one. We don’t know how it’s going to be. While SSE is lovely in many ways, administration isn’t always great and we’ve yet to see if they’ve managed to do well for once. I hope so, because we’re so excited to start.

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I had a talk with my friend Sara today, a fellow student at SSE, and we talked a bit about being teenagers.

I’m sure all of you remember it. And i’m sure most of you aren’t eager to repeat the experience.

I don’t remember life as being terribly hard when I was 12-18, but I know there were so many things that upset me, so many hours spent discussing trivial things that don’t matter know. Even when I was slightly older and living in the US, almost all of our time was spent with drama. Who’s friends with who, I’ve got a crush on him, he doesn’t like me…

And I can objectively say, my life is much harder today. I work much more, I have so much more complicated things to think about… My future, my family, my friends… And yet, life is so much easier now, at 23 than it was at 17.

Things like going on holiday somewhere new was daunting at 17. At 23, I’m nervous but I know I can handle pretty much anything that may happen. I’m so much better equipped to handle whatever life throws at me.

No matter that SSE is so much harder than high school, that it matters much more and that it’s so intense compared to everything else. I can handle it all in a different way. Even though an outsider would say there’s so much more against me today, it doesn’t feel that way.

I guess that’sn why they tell you life gets better when you grow up. And why I, no matter how much “easier” being 17 was, never want to have to do it again.

As I come closer to the end of my studies and the start of my career, I have plently of opportunities to consider who I want to be.

What do I want from my future job?

Well, I can’t say that I know that right now, in fact I’m pretty sure I’d like pretty much any job, since I’m pretty flexible. But I’ve seen some things already:

It’s important to show yourself off, from your best side.

Never show any weakness.

Take every opportunity to get ahead and sell yourself.

And I’ve realized that while I want a great career, I want to be able to look back and say I’ve acted honorably all my life. That I’ve been kind. That I’ve helped people. If that means I won’t earn that extra promotion, well, I’ll just be happy with less money.

I know some people will say that you should put yourself first, because others will do the same, but alright then.

Basically, just because you’re ambitious, does that have to mean you don’t care about people?

I read this interesting article by Anna Latimer at XoJane today.

What stuck with me was this paragraph:

You will not be proud of every single essay you submit in college. Whether you’re overworked and panicked, you procrastinated way too much, or you just don’t care about the topic, some of your essays are just not going to be that inspiring.

Don’t admit it to your professor. Don’t wince and say, “Sorry about this,” as you turn it in. No matter how well your professor knows you, he or she will not give you extra credit for self-awareness.

Part of me totally agrees, sometimes you need to fake it until you make it. The other part of me rebels and means that self-awareness and self-deprecation are two different things. To be aware of your efforts and how you present yourself is in my opinion never bad. Perhaps it’s my Swedishness bleeding though, but without self-awareness you become arrogant very fast.

Self-deprecation, however. It’s one of the things I struggle with most, actually. That pity really isn’t something that you want from other people, no matter what it may feel like. It’s so easy to deflect a compliment or to excuse something that you’ve done. Perhaps it is a female thing, as Latimer suggests, but I think it’s more than that. Not all women are self-deprecating and not all men put themselves in the spotlight.

Self-pity and deprecation are not the same as being modest or to ask for help. I feel many mix these concepts and that’s part of the problem. Going for modest but overshooting.

I go to a great school.

The Stockholm School of Economics.

It’s really good. And I mean that in every sense of the word.

It’s not quite the Swedish equivalent of Harvard or Yale, but the closest we get over here. It means that most of the day, I’m surrounded by highly intelligent, utterly brilliant and ambitious people. I go to class, and listen to top researchers. I do projects that are presented to attractive future employers and that challenge me and my fellow students. I haven’t bought hairspray in four years because we always get some in a goodie bag or other.

And sometimes it’s utterly miserable. Because everyone else feels smarter than you. Because you never, ever get to take a break. Because no matter what, you feel like you never catch up. And believe me, sometimes it feels unbearable.

There are tales (urban legends, I’m sure) about the law school students in Sweden. That because they need top grades for certain jobs, they’re ultra-competetive. They are said to rip out pages from important books or hide them so others students can’t find them.

I don’t know if it’s actually true or not, but you’d expect that sort of culture at SSE as well.

That’s the one thing that makes it all worthwhile, sometimes. That it isn’t like at the law schools.

Because I’ve met some of the most caring, most helpful people at my school.

Need to retake an exam? Someone will have their old notes for you.
Missed a few lectures? There is probably a summary of the course someone can send you.
Stuck on an assignment? Just ask someone in the computer room.

A month or so ago, I was working with some others on a group project, and we were well and truly stuck. We were in the computer rooms, discussing how to proceed when the girl sitting next to me turns around and says:
“Oh, is that the management case? I did that last year, do you wanna look at our presentation?”

She had no idea who we were, but she recognized the situation we were in and wanted to help. And next year, I’m sure we’ll do the same.

Pay it forward, as they say.

And that makes everything bearable.

And I’m going to fly.

 

I, like many others, have attempted to blog in the past. Usually, it’s been just for my close friends, but I want to attempt something a little more ambitious than that. I’m about halfway through my last year of college, and partly, I want to document that. I also want to write about the things that interest me, and believe me, there are many.

It’s just that I’ve never properly tried to put them in words before. In the last few years, I’ve become so much more aware of what’s important to me, and even if I’m the only one who’ll ever read this, I’ll have proved to myself that I really care about some things; the proof is right here.

And I expect I’ll write a lot about school as well. Since I spend most of my time there and all.