6 Life Lessons from the First 6 Months of 2022

Find out what the first 6 months of 2022 has taught me.

6 Life Lessons from the First 6 Months of 2022

This year saw numerous changes to my life. Jumping into full time postgraduate study, working part time loads and taking on exciting social justice projects have all been an exhilarating process. Those close to me know that I love to immerse myself in a variety of activities, keep productive and engage in lifelong learning. Well, the past six months have been no exception.

I know many people who keep their lives filled with ‘busy’ work and run the risk of being caught up in a rat race. Living in Sydney, Australia, I have seen how the increasingly high expectations and competition of neoliberal and capitalist influences hauntingly place a wedge between people’s outward manifestations and inner selves. So, to resist this trap and keep myself grounded, I ensure that I consistently reflect on my actions, character, intentionally cultivating who I want to be in order to live a virtuous life. Here are the six most impactful reflections and lessons that have surfaced for me in 2022.

1.     See the big picture and then focus on next step.

Having an anxiety disorder means that I often fail to function when I feel overwhelmed and uneasy about the future. It can be crippling when I commence a large project and have no idea how to start. This was true when I started my dissertation as part of my Master of Education degree earlier this year.

12, 000 words. Due in nine months. Also complete six other subjects in the same time frame.

During the planning stages, my supervisor and I discussed what our aim was with my paper. We mapped out each section, how the existing research would tie in and where my study would open out to for future researchers. Seeing the big picture definitely eased the mounting anxieties. However, it still seemed like a huge task where the apprehension would loom over. The left-hand side of the following picture was exactly how I felt.

Photo by Lizandmollie

Once a month, I would write a couple thousand words and send it to my supervisor for feedback. Then, we would meet and talk about my next step. By bringing my attention to a single task that I had to complete for each month, I was able to feel surer about my ability to write up a smaller section. The right-hand side of the following picture was exactly how I was beginning to feel.

It's now June and I’m halfway through my dissertation journey. I have a complete first draft and six months to refine it. No, I would have never imagined that this would be the case if I kept fretting about the big picture and how I would ever achieve my goals. Keep focusing on the one small action you can take today to work towards what you are intending to accomplish. You will get there. I believe in you.

2.     Personal development also includes collective wellbeing

I have always been interested in self-development and continuously seek ways to better myself. Growing up in an academically competitive environment, it was always about how we could be better than the person next to us, whether it be getting a higher score on a test, studying for longer hours than your friend or completing another extra-curricular to set yourself apart. To be honest, it was a lonely journey.

Having delved into philosophies such as Stoicism, Taoism and Buddhism in the past eighteen months has reframed these schemas that I took on during childhood. Philosophical schools of thought go beyond the self and explore how we can create a more harmonious society, strive for social justice and foster better educational systems to achieve collective wellbeing. Hierocles' model of concern as shown below represent the idea of cosmopolitan and oikeiosis, which is the view of something as one’s own and belonging to oneself. From the diagram, we can see that if we care for the self, we also naturally extend our care to the subsequent circle, which is family. We can continue expanding our concern for friends, community, all of humanity and earth. Thus, if we are to be concerned with ourselves, we are also concerned with other aspects of society. With all the content out there related to improving oneself, we must also be mindful in using this to benefit the collective whole so as to achieve a more harmonious society.

Photo by Whiting et al., 2018

3.     Critical thinking, not criticism

If there’s one thing that I have learnt form postgraduate study, it’s how to think critically. In our breakout rooms and small group discussions, often my peers will share their complaints about a broken system, laced with bureaucracy and social injustice. Yes, I hear and acknowledge your experiences, however, no amount of criticism will solve the problem. In an age of social media, the first thing we often do is add in our opinion and judgement into the conversation.

Learning how to think about something intellectually and intentionally has helped me gained a more positive perspective on solving some of education’s most complicated issues. By conceptualising, analysing, evaluating and applying my knowledge to reason theory with action, I am able to approach issues with conviction that I will have the skills and tools to resolve them, rather than being in a negative cycle of complaints.

4.     Take the time to thank and appreciate others.

Every time after I catch up with a friend, meet with a mentor or interact with a new connection, I take the time to send them a message showing my gratitude. By carving out time to think about how another person has added value into my life adds another layer to the relationship and cultivates an authentic dynamic.

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, begins his book Meditations by thanking each and every person who has taught him important life lessons. He thanks Junius Rusticus, his Stoic teacher for recognising the need to train and discipline one’s character. He appreciates the simple way his mother lived. He recognises how his adopted father listened to anyone who could contribute to the public good and not just politicians or people with a private education. We can see here that Marcus Aurelius values those around him not for material gains, but for their integrity and character. Have you shown your gratitude and thanks for someone else today?

5.     Years of experience isn’t everything.

Having started my career as a teacher the year the pandemic hit, flexibility had never been more pronounced in my everyday work. Teachers were having needed to think and act in a way which they had not previously experienced. From online learning to supporting their own mental wellbeing in numerous lockdowns, I argue that having 10, 20 or even 30 years of experience in education could have not adequately prepared us for this.

Having no previous experience as an accredited teacher meant that I did not know any different. Frankly, this made my experience much more palatable with a positive valence. I went along for the ride and openly accepted the events as they unfolded, whereas many of my older colleagues found it difficult to transition to using online learning platforms and communicate with students via video conference calls because they had been stuck in a particular way of operating for so long. Reflecting on my first few years of teaching, I have grown and created my own success through developing an increased self-awareness, drawing on my passions and living out a virtuous life. This can be employed by anyone regardless of where they are in their career.

6.     Healthy relationships come from working on yourself first.

This lesson is one that has been years in the making. Throughout my early 20’s I struggled with self-acceptance and having a rational, virtuous approach to life. It felt like I was making the same mistakes repeatedly with little progress. Having gone through therapy and taking the time to heal through philosophy, the journey was one of radical self-transformation. Philosophy was regarded in Ancient Greece as ‘medicine for the soul’ and hence, my exploration into the discipline has allowed me to progressively heal. I gradually rewrote the negative narrative I had been told my whole life. This was one based on fear. Now, I am in a place where I am rooted in love, am able to be compassionate and engage in healthy relationships because I value myself. This would not have been possible without working on myself first.

2022 so far has been a whirlwind ride and a great time of personal growth. I am continually accepting who I am and intentionally taking action to cultivate who I want to be. Take the time to reflect on what this year has taught you.


Aurelius, M., & Hays, G. (2002). Meditations: Marcus Aurelius. Modern Library.

Whiting, K., Konstantakos, L., Sadler, G., & Gill, C. (2018). Were Neanderthals Rational? A Stoic Approach. Humanities, 7(2), 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/h7020039

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