10 Life Lessons I Learnt At School

Akhil Sonthi
4 min readJan 29, 2021

School was literally life-changing. Not due to lessons inside the classroom but more due to the lessons outside the classroom through interaction with students and teachers. It was a rollercoaster ride which made me ‘immune’ to certain things or types of people and I’m glad I gained this exposure early on in my life.

So what were the lessons?

1. Don’t rely on hard-work

Just don’t. No matter how hard you work, you won’t be successful 100% of the time. There will always be someone else who has worked a lot less harder but has ‘lucked out’. Placing too much trust on hard-work will generally back-fire so the best mindset is to work as hard as you can and not have too many expectations. Ambitions? For sure. But not expectations on your mark, grade, salary, lifestyle or family. Work hard and carry on.

2. Don’t overthink friendships

Life is such that you rarely have friendships with equal levels of effort in the relationship. Sometimes friends make mistakes and other times they drift apart. On the whole, they are a convenient source of companionship and comfort. So enjoy the precious moments with your friends but don’t waste time thinking about your relationship from their perspective e.g. do they consider you a best friend?

3. Don’t give up everything for an extra mark

We make millions of choices during our lifetime. From time to time, we have to make a crucial choice: should I place 100% of my time towards guaranteeing a top grade, job or salary or 20–25% of my time while experiencing various things which I can’t do again? I think Pareto’s Principle applies here quite well which says “20% input required for 80% output” — my advice would be to identify that key 20% and spend the remaining 80% of your time on family, friends, side projects, travelling, fitness etc.

4. Bullying is real

I knew bullying was a thing but to observe it in real life for the first time was quite shocking. What’s more shocking is that it doesn’t really stop in most workplaces.

5. Stay true to yourself

Unfortunately, as a student, staying true to yourself and being honest about everything may get you disliked or bullied. This is also the case in your career — agree with seniority and it will be a smooth ride. On the other hand, I noticed teachers and senior figures seemed to get a lot more respect if they remained themselves whatever the situation may be. In this modern, social-media-centric world, it can be difficult even though we are generally more accepting but we’re getting there!

6. Social hierarchies exist everywhere

At school, there were cool kids. At work, there are confident and smart adults. In life, there are confident and successful adults. These hierarchies form organically (and sometimes artificially!) all the time and the sooner you ignore it and focus on yourself, the better.

7. Enjoy the moment

You hear this advice everywhere and most of the time, it can be hard to imagine why the current moment is so ‘enjoyable’. The worst bit is that you realise this after that current moment has passed. In the moment, I felt school was reasonably tough and could rarely fathom how it’s considered enjoyable and stress-free. A few years later, I can say those 7 years will easily be the most responsibility-free, spoon-fed years of my life.

8. Explore everything

Make the most out of the time you have on this planet. Explore new areas of study, the world of programming, languages, music genres, careers and cities. Of course you need to relax but for the most part, try to push yourself to be as proactive and productive as possible.

9. Treat everyone with respect

Never look down on anyone else. You never know the value they can bring to this world and just because they’re not ‘successful’ (which is pretty much luck) or ‘highly intelligent’ (impossible to truly measure) doesn’t mean they can’t create the next unicorn or write a famous TV sitcom. Treat your family, friends, peers, teachers, colleagues and bosses with respect. Not because they can help you out in return if they luck out and become successful but because we shouldn’t diminish anyone’s confidence or potential value.

10. You need sport and fitness in your life

Let’s be honest, PE or sport in school was usually most people’s favourite lesson. We looked forward to that break in the middle of the day which kept us going for the rest of the day/week. Sport and fitness is something that needs to exist alongside our ever-changing life and becomes more and more crucial as we grow older.



Akhil Sonthi

Tech Enthusiast | Entrepreneur | Music Artist | MEng @ Cambridge