I recall my knees trembling and thoughts racing through my mind as a wimpy kindergartner as I walked through my grade school halls and tilted my head up to catch a glimpse at the tall, scary eighth graders rush past me.
"It is going to be a looooooong time until I am in eighth grade, what will I be like then? Will I be tall? What will I look like? Will my hair still be curly? Will I be able to read all the books I always wanted to read? Will I be smart?"
In addition to believing the day I would be in eighth grade would never come, I also believed the day I would turn 21 would never come. The future has always been in the back of my mind and I never expected for it to creep up on me this quickly.
I have 17 days until I turn 21, and as most students my age begins to feel excited as they will finally be able to drink and buy alcohol, for me, it is the age my once kindergarten self-thought was "old" and "far, far away." You probably just thought, "Really? THAT is what you are thinking about?"
Now, do not get me wrong, I am excited to turn 21. I feel as though it is an exciting birthday. I mean, do you remember turning 19? There is nothing exciting about 19. Therefore, approaching a big milestone does in fact bring an immense amount of happiness and excitement as I begin to feel more of an adult.
Though, as I reflect on turning 21, I recognize the fact that my life is similar to the "Hare" in the famous "Tortoise and the Hare" story. I am always living in the future, constantly worrying about internships and whether or not I will get a job… (Yes, I am that anxious and it sounds crazier typed out that it does in my mind). It is not to say turning 21 will be "life changing" but as this milestone draws near, I desire to live in the moment and stop worrying about the future as my life only goes by that much faster that way. I recall my freshman year college self-saying, "Junior year is so far away" but now it is here… I am living in this moment but I am only thinking about the future. How am I to enjoy the present if I am living in the future? I challenge myself to be the tortoise and take each day at a time and enjoy every second. Being a college student is never easy and there are many challenges as I must balance school work, club meetings, friendships, sleep, and much more. But, there are so many opportunities to take part of and make them blissful memories. I am tired of counting down the days until I get to go home and am looking over the fact I get to live with my absolute best friends and see them all each and every day! Pretty soon, we will be off starting our careers and I will miss the idea of waking up yelling "Alexa! Play Body by Loud Luxury" as we all get excited and dance around the room.
Just yesterday, I had a conversation with someone about a course we are required to take at our University. I explained how my teacher was not too difficult, and they replied "Well Kirsten, you are crazy. Crazy in a good way. All you do is work and sit in the library, I wish I could be that way." In that moment, I recognized this individual was in no means making fun of me, but instead it reminded me that I often do not take time to look up from my books and enjoy what is going on. I have the incredible opportunity to being studying 845 miles away from home, in the beautiful town of Fairfield, Connecticut that is so close to the ocean. In the moment, it might not appear like anything but in the future I recognize I will regret not exploring the world around me as much as I knew I could have.
It is in these moments that my boyfriend reminds me of the famous quote:
"If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present."
― Lao Tzu
If you are like me and are living in the future, it is time to be thankful for the present. There will be challenges, some days will be difficult to sit down and study, but the other days make them worth wild. Your future will unfold eventually and you will work hard toward it now, but recognize your time now as you might not even get a tomorrow. The tortoise might be slow, but he still finishes and finishes proudly. Therefore, Be the tortoise in life and you will find success.