6 Lessons from the Last 6 Months of 2022

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

6 Lessons from the Last 6 Months of 2022

Earlier through this year, I reflected on six key lessons I took away from the first six months of 2022. Fast forward another six months and here we are at the end of another socially constructed thing we call a 'calendar year'. We are all a work in progress and constantly evolving. Let's cut to the chase and see my six most important lessons in the last six months.

1.     There will never be a ‘right’ time to start

Waiting for the ‘right’ time sounds to me like another way of wasting time. What does ‘right’ even look like? How will you know? I have always found that starting something before you are ready can be beneficial in gaining momentum and building the strength to tackle life’s challenges. Nothing will be easy when you first start out.

Trying new things can be nerve-wracking, confusing and scary. As a teacher, my students are always encountering knowledge or mastering skills for the first time, and they inspire me with their persistence, curiosity and positive mindset to push through the initial fears or trials of learning. They move this phase called aporia, a Greek work used in Hellenistic philosophy which means to be in a state of puzzlement. However, somewhere down the line, we have come to perceive that picking up new things should be easy or straightforward. We see someone else’s success and fail to acknowledge or recognise their hard work and grit, that they had to undergo aporia at some point in their journey.

So, if you have been wanting to try a new hobby, read a book or change careers, the best thing you can do for yourself is to take that first step today and see aporia as a part of the learning process, a chance for you to show perseverance. Make a micro dent in it. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

2.     We need to be inner work practitioners

I have been dipping my toes into Daoism over the past few months during my postgraduate research. Arising around 6BCE, Daoism is an ancient Eastern school of philosophy built upon the contemplations of Lao Tzu 老子. It promotes a holistic outlook of the universe and human nature, with emphasis on the cultivation of virtue (Sterckx, 2019). The Tao Te Ching 道德經 is a fundamental text written during 4BCE in the context of political governance and explores how to cultivate life and leadership in accordance with Dao, the natural order of the universe.

Cohen et al.’s (2012) research stems from the following core idea 'that great teachers are inner work practitioners, that is, individuals who are aware of the inner processes and know the landscape of their personal consciousness' (p. 22). This is a critical point made by Cohen et al. (2012).

As Palmer (1998) put it, “We teach who we are” (p. 1). If a teacher is whole, then he or she will teach that, and alternatively, if an educator is not whole, then that will be the lesson. The problem is not that a teacher is less than whole. That is the case for most of us. The problem is being unconscious about the holes in our wholeness and perpetrating the effects of these deficits on others. (Cohen et al., 2012. p. 21)

Reading this passage for the first time this year felt like someone finally understood what I had been trying to achieve and promote as an early-career teacher. So often, my students pick up small habits or characteristics of mine and emulate it in their everyday lives. As a highly organised, tidy person, this is reflected in how my students place their pencil cases so that it lines up with the edge of the desk, chairs are always mindfully tucked in and they know exactly where each object belongs in the classroom. They see my own desk and how I clean up after myself, then proceed to copy it. Monkey see, monkey do (like René Girard's mimetic theory of desire). The fascinating thing is that it’s not just external habits that children copy, it’s also my inner self talk and character that they are downloading from me as well. The exchange of energy (in Daoism, this would be referred to as 氣) is there, but you cannot see it.

There have been times where I see other teachers with different shortcomings react unconsciously with ways that can be damaging to students. Whether it be quick, sudden outbursts at a student’s behaviour because they are easily irritable that day or show privilege which can wound children very easily. I’m not saying that I have never been guilty of these myself, but I have developed the consciousness over the years through inner and psychological work to understand that every action I take is powerfully influential on others. This lesson could be a whole research paper or book in itself. What I am gesturing towards is the need for educators need to consistently engage in a deeper inquiry into their soul, which can be done through Daoist or other philosophical practices. This in turn will foster a more nuanced relational pedagogy which will benefit themselves and their students’ wellbeing.

3.     Progress over perfection

Having grown up in an academically competitive environment, perfection was always the expectation. Unhealthy and unrealistic, it gave rise to a constant undercurrent of self-criticism. Much of my postgraduate journey was about learning to deeply appreciate each opportunity as a site of authentic learning, rather than an effort to attain the highest marks. When it came to interpersonal relationships, yes, there have been times where I dropped the ball or could have communicated better. However, beating myself up about it does not do any good. Rather, I am compassionate with myself and say, I was only doing what I knew best at the time. Knowing what I know now, how I acted would never be the case. We are all human and need to make those mistakes to then reflect and cultivate our self-awareness. Thus, my own life has become a philosophical laboratory, where I experiment with different ways of living. Intentionally putting time aside to reflect is a critical part of learning and can sharpen how we continue navigating life.

Photo by Lizandmollie

4.     Choosing to maintain a life of inner stability over many highs and lows

Protecting and maintaining my inner peace requires constant and intentional decisions that align with my values. I feel that modern society is becoming more polarised and to gain attention or seek validation, we are having to exist more and more on these extremities which can be draining and unsustainable. Hence, choosing who I interact with, how I spend my time and what social media content I consume must all be done mindfully.

Understanding the world through Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism and my third lesson above, we are always creating ourselves through actions, which is a fundamental part of the human condition. We are our own freedom. I choose to be free from the judgements of others by understanding that their comments reflect their worldview and not my own. I choose to be free from letting society define what success and happiness are by clarifying my own values through deep contemplation. I choose to be free from the exchange of negativity energy by building in meaningful, authentic connections with others. I choose to maintain a life of inner peace and stability.

5.     Cultivating my ‘eros’

Eros is a concept in Ancient Greek philosophy referring to sensual or passionate love, from which the term erotic is derived. Eros has also been used in philosophy and psychology in a much wider sense, almost as an equivalent to ‘life energy’.

My eros or 'life energy' comes from from being able to consistently reflect on my purpose, practice and perspectives. Continuously working on my character and striving to live a virtuous life brings me happiness. By seeking out new ways of knowing and thinking, I enjoy being open-minded, challenged and able to re-frame how I see things to advance towards inner peace. It also energises me when I can share these insights with others and pass on my wisdom in ways that are inspiring. By channelling this to the wider community, I am contributing to something that is bigger than myself, connecting myself to humanity.

Furthermore, I feel energised by relationships and connections where I feel secure and seen with positive, yet constructive feedback being exchanged. These are important because I know that we both come from a place of authenticity and vulnerability in order to grow with love. I understand that challenges build us into people who are beautiful with a deep sense of understanding and care for ourselves and others.

Photo by ecom.paths

6.     Your success is never just about you

Much of my work this year has been in collaboration with others. Having been an independent person for a long time, I have always heavily relied on myself to get the job done. However, there has been an increasing need to delegate, communicate and innovate with like-minded people in order for me to realise my visions. Drawing on the expertise, creativity and energy of others has been such an immensely satisfying experience. I have a deeper understanding of how to navigate interpersonal relationships and not feel a pressure to do it all on my own. Additionally, we keep each other accountable and motivated. Many philosophies highlight the interconnected nature of our world; hence, we must seek to humble our egos and work together in harmony.

A practice that I have been consistently executing is showing my gratitude with those I interact. This was a lesson that I was implementing in the first half of this year. It has been a fulfilling practice that I have continued to apply in my everyday life, which can be as simple as following up with a thank you email or text straight after a meeting. This explicitly creates a harmonious connection with those around me and shows them that I acknowledge their efforts.

Concluding Thoughts

2022 has been a time of immense growth, self-learning and reflection. I would have not guessed in a million years that this is where I would be today, and I am so thankful for that. Our human consciousness can only see so much, but embracing life as it comes pushes us in new directions that we could not ever predict and shapes us into better people. To everyone who has been a part of the journey so far, whether it be a long-time friend or a stranger that I only ever had one conversation with, it all influences who I am today. Thank you.

If you would like to show your support, feel free to buy me a coffee! ☕


Cohen, A., Porath, M., Clarke, A., Bai, H., Leggo, C., & Meyer, K. (Eds.). (2012). Speaking of teaching...: Inclinations, inspirations, and innerworkings. Springer Science & Business Media.

Sterckx, R. (2019). Chinese Thought: From Confucius to Cook Ding. Penguin UK.