“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that has recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Cristiana Cavalieri.

Our time on this Earth starts the second we are born. After only five years of life, we begin the 14-year journey through school: grade 00 to Matric.

At this point, we do not feel the stress of rushing through life. If anything, perhaps we wish that time would slow down (especially at those jumping-castle, sweet-filled, dress-up parties – it always sucked when it was home time).

Moving on from one grade to the next was always filled with such excitement.

In grade 0: Having to wear “big girl uniform”

Grade 5: Being the “senior primary girls” and starting exams

Grade 7: Being the oldest, getting to sit on chairs instead of on the floor in assembly, and becoming a prefect

Grade 8: The beginning of a new chapter, school initiation of carrying an ant around and having to explain the life story of your ant to any Matric who asked; also, the change of uniform. This is the grade where you start thinking of TIME; only five years of dreaded school left

Grade 12: The LAST YEAR of school… FINALLY the time has come! Turning 18, getting your driver’s licence, becoming a prefect (again), Matric finals, applying to university and (last but DEFINITELY NOT LEAST) Matric vacation!

This chapter of your life is finished. Now time for university.

Let’s be honest, you don’t only consider the degree that you are going to study. You also look at how many years the degree will take to complete, as “a matter of interest”. But here it is evident that time is a factor that is taken into consideration.

“What is the fewest number of days I need to study for this exam?”

“How long did the project take you to do?” Etc.

At the end of Matric, I decided to study a BA Law at the University of Stellenbosch (a three-year undergrad degree). Before I began I was warned: “Law is a lot of reading; you won’t have time for much else.” It did not take me very long to realise that this was true.

With many hours of reading, never-ending cases, writing three-hour exams, working on projects that sometimes took three weeks to complete, time was gold; valuable and never to be wasted.

After the first year I wasn’t too sure that law was for me. I decided to give it another year to see if I changed my mind.

  • I didn’t.

After tears of uncertainty and the feeling that the past two years were a complete waste, I made the decision to change over to marketing – a three-year degree. I genuinely felt as if I’d be 100 years old by the time I finished my degree. It took my mom, dad, multiple fresh-out-of-varsity employees and my 94-year-old gran to convince me that I am young and that I HAVE TIME.

So here I am, having finished the first year of my marketing degree, at the tender age of 21. I will graduate at 23, which I now think is so young that I may take MORE TIME and complete an honours degree.

So, through this I have learnt some valuable lessons:

  • Take every day as it comes
  • Appreciate every day
  • When you find yourself rushing, slow down and take a breath
  • It is never too late to make a change
  • Age is just a number

Always remember: YOU HAVE TIME.