There’s nothing wrong with being a student. In its broadest sense it means to learn, and learning is of course instrumental to every kind of success and a form of happiness in itself. But the word connotes a particular type of learning.
When you hear the word student you think first of someone sitting in a desk. You think of someone listening, passively consuming bits of knowledge through books or lectures. You think of four walls, uniform lines of learners close in age, being taught identical material. In its most unflattering but not uncommon usage students are the raw material in the institutional education structure. A student is to school what sheet metal is to an auto stamping factory.
Learning is so much broader than classrooms or the consumption of information. It is a process through which you gain new skills, knowledge, and worldviews that help you better achieve your desired ends. Most of the things we learn come through experience, and even abstract ideas are best understood and internalized when we have some context for application. Learning is an immersive, give and take, trial and error experience.
That’s why I prefer the term “participant” to “student”. A participant is active, assertive, taking in data but also producing it. Perhaps it’s just semantics or personal preference, but if you swap those words when you think about your educational journey, it might give you a slightly different attitude and orientation. A student awaits instruction. A participant seeks out the next step and takes it.