College: the time to explore and adventure. It’s the time of our lives, right?
Uhm, sometimes, yes. Other times—when the ramen grows low and the stack of exams, papers, and projects high—it definitely feels like “the time of our lives”: the most stressful time of our lives.
We’re doing and seeing so much, but (maybe) we’re actually missing more. Here’s what we let slip by…
1. Opportunities to Lose Ourselves
College is supposed to be about finding ourselves.
But it’s too easy for it to become all about us.
What are you majoring in at college? How is that going to help your life in the future? How do you feel about your campus? How do you see yourself changing? What are your goals?
These questions are okay—sometimes. It’s when they become our constant mental-fixation that we start to miss.
We start to miss opportunities to invest in people around us.
If we are obsessed with becoming all we can be, we forget that people around us are also faltering as they develop into their potential. What if we tried to lose ourselves in trying to serve them? Trying to walk through life with them and encourage the good things we see in them?
We can turn our conversation from complaining about our-sad-existence to thanking the people who make our lives a little better.
We can stop criticizing others and encourage them in the ways they are doing good.
We can ask if they are struggling with something and honestly try to help—with our words or with our actions.
In the time of “finding ourselves” we don’t want to miss losing ourselves (because this might actually help us see who we really are):
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” (Mahatma Gandhi).
2. Opportunities to Waste Time (No Really. I’m Serious.)
You might feel like you already do this too frequently (hello, Netflix…). But maybe, you should actually be doing this more—just in a different way.
Honestly, who defines what wasting time actually is? Is it neglecting your priorities? What defines your priorities? Your deadlines for assignments? Your parents’ opinion about that successful career you must devote all your time to achieving?
Maybe your priorities should reflect valuing people as much as tasks, chasing your dreams even more than other peoples’ dreams for you, loving each moment as much as humanly possible.
I know I don’t want to get through my college years never letting myself take time to just explore what interests me. To spend the extra, “wasted” time getting to know the depths of my roommate’s story. To consciously do things out of my comfort zone that develop as a whole person.
I know I don’t just want to spend my life meeting the expectations of others. I want to live; I want to “waste time” finding out what life really means.
3. Opportunities to Hope
College is the supposed launching pad of adulthood. For better or for worse, we are forced to learn “to adult.”
And “adulting” often brings issues along with it. We have to see reality more clearly (apparently); we have to “face the facts” and accept that “it’s only going to get worse from here.”
We’re told of the old age, crazy children, less-than-loving spouse, less-than-ideal boss, and less-than-free life.
But what if we approached this new “adulting” with a perspective of hope? What if we allowed ourselves to focus on all the good about our future realities?
What if this was our future reality:
Excitement—hoping that we will keep learning new things about ourselves, others and the world around us?
Anticipation—hoping that our life would be full of small moments of joy and meaningful conversations?
Expectation—hoping that we have the power to choose each day, to take steps closer and closer to reaching our goals and achieving our dreams?
Maybe if we had a perspective shift, we could stop missing so much.
Maybe we could really see what it means to live.