What a long year. First year classes are now behind us and only one exam stands between me and a nice relaxing beach holiday. This last module (comprised of two subjects) has been one of the longest to date.

Not that the timetable has been any different to previous modules, it is just that I have almost run out of steam. And I don’t think I am alone in my sentiments. It’s evident everywhere.

The second year students submitted their theses early November, then poof, disappeared without a trace. Those of us still to face one more year, are all ready for a nice break.

I have to commend the university though for this last module. Team-based projects and assignments really keep people on their toes. You don’t really know someone until you have worked with them on a group assignment. And that’s the thing: we all work in some form of a team at home or in the office, but there is something different about this school teamwork. It’s as if our lives depend on the success of the team.

In the workplace we attend ‘team building’ sessions – at school not so much. There is very little opportunity for the whole ‘norming, storming’ process. Only a minute was spent on each stage before our first assignment was due. And just as we were getting into the swing of the teams we started with in January, they were switched.

With only four months to go till the end of the year, it was a traumatic experience. Why would they snatch me from the people I know, and love and understand? Just to start all over again. What a process! As usual I try and find a lesson in all of this, otherwise what’s the point right?

Group assignments and subsequent group dynamics are a law unto themselves. Emotions go from wanting to pull your hair out to wanting to kiss, hug and congratulate your fellow team member. There really must be a single word to describe this emotional roller-coaster at an end of an assignment. That being said, the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment once the assignment has been submitted or the presentation completed, is on another level.

There is a moment where you think you could have done better, or things could have been far worse, but most importantly (at least for me) are the lessons I have learnt from my fellow team members. Otherwise what is the point of all this teamwork madness if it is not to teach us any lessons?

There are two key lessons that I have learnt over the past year.

(1) The art of truly listening and

(2) the art of picking your battles.

I thought I was stubborn. My parents used to tell me, my gran used to tell me, my husband tells me I am stubborn. After a year on this programme I put it to you dear family, I am pretty reasonable. Going forward I would prefer the label ‘steadfast’.

Other takeaways from all this group work include:

  • Give a little. You lose nothing by giving in to others, you stand to lose a lot by not maintaining relationships.
  • Breathe. This subconscious action tends to escape us at times. We tend to stop breathing due to exhaustion, anger, disappointment, and ‘astonishment at how the other person does not think you are right’. We really should let go, and just breathe. The world is not going to end if we don’t get our way.

Now that I have made it to the end of the year and experienced all these team dynamics, I hope that I will be a better person for them in the New Year. If not at school, maybe at work, what’s the point of all of this if I am not a slightly improved version of myself?

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