It’s interesting how my sense of time changed when I got to college. Back in high school, I only have a hundred people or so in my grade and, god, I was stuck with them for what seemed like forever. The same faces for seven years. Same teachers, same building. There was no excitement or significant changes, so as soon as February hit me every year, thoughts of summer and adventurous escapades would fill my mind. These thoughts were the biggest, juiciest motivations when I push through on that last paper, that final exam. It was not the clock ticking silently in my high school’s cramped library, no, but the droning sound of the airplane that cheered me on all the way until the end of the school year. I could hardly wait to get out of this small, dry town filled with lukewarm people suffocated by their own suburban boredom.
Now, magic. I’ve landed in California, a hell of a big state, and also coincidentally at one of the biggest universities in the world. I can’t begin to imagine how many freshmen students are out there – man, I’ve already lost track of how many I’ve talked to. My whole notion of space and of connections between people shifted 180 degrees. And as I tried to take everything in one bite at a time, like savoring some kind of rare, expensive delicacy, I realize halfway through the year –
I only have four years on this campus.
Suddenly, my relationship with time changes. I see myself hesitant on fast-forwarding to this summer. Instead, I desperately want to hold on to every moment I have as a college student – each month passes by so slyly, under my nose. Sometimes I think its not fair, to be thrown into this huge campus with thousands of fellow students, a plethora of opportunities, events, parties, classes to take, and then be told – almost like a side note – by the way, you’ve only got four years.
And, let’s be honest. I haven’t always been appreciative of my time here. These past ten weeks, I made the mistake of letting time pass me – people say how are you and I say busy and walk away. I get things done efficiently – I make to do lists, I work out, I read my assignments ahead. I let my routine life push my emotions aside. Unlike during the fall, when I was getting to know people, I don’t leave time for friendships to grow, and generally I’m left feeling less fulfilled on the inside. To clarify, I think that it’s perfectly ok, and even admirable, to let yourself be immersed in your studies and tasks for a while, because it stretches your brain and boosts your self-discipline – two very important life skills.
However, as spring comes closer, I’m anticipating a change of pace. Not necessarily trying to minimize the work I need to do to zero, or hiking all day every day to be one with nature, but rather, I think I can instill a change of pace from, you know, the small things. In the end, I can be the busiest person in the world but still appreciate the things around me. Tweaks in my daily life can make a big difference in how much I actually notice my surroundings, how well I can turn time – something I’ve realized to be so ephemeral, transient – into memories that stay with me for the rest of my life. I want to find the balance between ambitiously working for a bright future and taking time to capture the present, to savor the past. After all, success may be a once in a lifetime event, but happiness is in the every day. This may sound cliché, and I always scoffed at this pursuit of happiness back in high school as superficial. In truth, it’s something everyone will think about once they grasp the sheer transiency of time. Besides, happiness is only as superficial as you make it to be.
Here are just a few things I’m telling myself to do this spring in order to get back in touch with the happiness that is around and within me.