Appreciating the Small Things

John Naranjo

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I hate to say it but there are a lot of things in my life that I take for granted. The clothes on my back, the roof over my head and even the incredible people in my life are all just a few examples of this. As humans, I think it’s very hard for us to just stop and smell the roses. We’re constantly wrapped up in the things we have to do so we forget about all of the great things we have in our lives. However there are times that we do remember some of the good things in our lives, just in a not so positive light.

What I’m trying to say is that we complain about the great things too often. The biggest example of this (especially when it comes to teenagers) is education. Education is probably one of the greatest things in our lives that we take for granted. Now I know this sounds like some lecture coming from one of your teachers but please just hear me out.

Being the son of two people who never completed high school, I understand the limitations that can come when you don’t receive an education. Not only are there several missed opportunities but there are also many regrets. If there’s one thing my parents wished they had done differently in their lives it’s finishing high school.

Steering away from a personal viewpoint, I still must say that education is one of the most useful tools we can have growing up. Most jobs require at least a high school diploma as their education qualification and there are several skills you build in school that greatly benefit you later in life.

Okay so maybe you understand all this but still can’t help but moan and groan over the fact that you have to wake up to go to school every weekday. In that case perhaps you should look at the many people who aren’t as lucky as you. Many children in certain regions of Africa and Asia are denied education for a number of reasons and those who do are not given a great one. About one in three adults in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot read, a skill we deem as ordinary and not at all a  privilege. This is largely due to these adults having been denied education in their youth. Many of these people will never see a life outside of raising a family and although that can be very fulfilling on its own for some, I’m sure there are some who would like even more out of life.

In addition to this, education is denied to girls in many more parts of the world. These regions expect women to be nothing more than a trophy for a man mainly due to cultural reasons. This has led many to speak out and advocate for the education of girls. Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai almost had to pay with her life for education. This should be a huge wake up call to those of us who can be educated at no cost.

To make things short, it’s important to be grateful for the opportunities that are handed to us because we’ll never know what it’s like to have less than what we’re offered.

I’m sure we all have dreams. Maybe that dream is to one day be a surgeon or an author or a chemist but know that whatever that dream is it will always be out of reach without a complete education. From promoting from 8th grade, to graduating high school, to pursuing the next step of a career path, whether that includes higher education or not, we’ll see that a lot of the milestones in life involve education. Sure, school may be stressful. It may make you want to pull your hair out or cry at midnight as you finish a paper but it’s all worth it because when you look back on your life you’ll realize none of it could have been done if it wasn’t for the education you had.

Hopefully the next time you wake up to go to class, you’ll smile because you’ve been truly blessed with a variety of opportunities that so many other people don’t get. That’s the difference between having and lacking an education and I hope that as life goes on the people who are lucky enough to have an education will no longer take it for granted but rather appreciate it as much as they can.

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