Watching The Seconds Tick By In An Attempt To Make My Life Count

Watching The Seconds Tick By In An Attempt To Make My Life Count

Tick Tick Tick
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The entirety of my freshmen year of college, I had a countdown set to tick towards its end.

Every day, I’d wake up and check the countdown. Mid-day- check the countdown. Before bed- check the countdown. Even when I’d wake up in the middle of the night, restless from wasting another day staring at this countdown, I’d still check it again.

This countdown was set to when this year would be finished. Days, hours, minutes, seconds until I’d be back home. I’d waste these precious days of “the best years of my life” staring at the days, hours, minutes, and seconds of my life disappearing on this all-encompassing countdown.

My rationale was, in watching my life tangibly vanish before my eyes, I could wrap myself in the potential idea of where I’ll be when those numbers vanish in their entirety. One day I’ll be watching these numbers wind down into that infamous 3…2…1… and I’ll be home. Home. Friends. Family. Tick tick tick.

This escapism whisked me away from the reality of my situation. 24 hours, 7 days a week in a state that I couldn’t call my home, with people that I couldn’t call my family, making not memories but rather trying my best to just make time pass. Tick tick tick.

My family would call and say, “How are you, are you just having so much fun?”

No.

Conversation continues. Conversation will probably take 45 minutes to 1 hour, so by the time my parents hang up, the countdown should say 17 hours left until 6 weeks until 3 months until vacation rather than 18 hours.

My family would call and say, “Well, we’ll be up there very soon. We can’t wait!”

Neither can I. Literally. I legitimately cannot wait, Mom. How many minutes left now, Dad?

And we’d hang up. One second…. Two seconds… three seconds go by… and I’d check the countdown.

My everything was stuck on this idea of what I was missing out on by attending a school far far away. I couldn’t shake this constant need to think of my home-state and all its people living their lives without me. My mind was locked onto all the moments and memories and everything else I was missing out on, while my body was locked into a cycle of moving through the motions and counting down the time until I repeated that cycle once more.

In between bouts of blinking away my own life, my time was spent glazing my eyes over with all the pictures, videos, and posts about all the fun those people were having.

Tick.

Look, now they’re having a sleepover.

Tock.

Now it’s their opening night.

Tick.

Oh, look it’s her birthday.

Tock.

Wow, they look like they’re having so much fun.

I was putting no stock in myself. I was wallowing in my own self-made misery with every second I spent drinking in the lives of those who were not around me. I was well past FOMO and was instead wading in a lake of obsessive deprecation.

“Aren’t you just having so much fun?”

No. But Mary C. from South Carolina looks like she is.

Because of this, practically the entirety of my freshman year on instinct feels like a regret.

The most prominent of all those many, many regrets, besides all the time I wasted in my own life, was the time I wasted that wasn’t mine to waste. Sorry, Mom. Sorry, Dad.

So, it was finally Spring Break. Here it was, that 3…2…1 I spent the past 3 months wholeheartedly desiring, and I was home. Except once I was there, everything was wrong. That FOMO wasn't disappearing, it was growing.

I didn’t want to be home anymore. I didn’t want to be with friends. I didn’t want to be with my family. I waited months for this moment, and suddenly the ideal was falling apart into another one of the many realities I spent all year trying to avoid.

I spent the entirety of my vacation, that fleeting week with the precious company of my family and friends before another three months without them, crying.

The dream was dying. I was now a ten-minute drive away from all those good times and smiles, and yet no one wanted to see me as greatly as I wanted to see them. I was heart-broken. God bless my parents who tried so hard to comfort me and my irrational grieving over not having constant activity, but this year-long deprecating mentality wasn’t budging.

So I kept crying. I cried until I finally saw healing.

And they sat with me through night after night of tears as the realization set in that this idea of mourning memories that were not mine to have slowly withered. My week was up, my time once again-wasted, but at least my cheeks were drying as my clouds began parting.

With baby steps, of putting down my phone, of grounding myself in the tangibility of my situation, and continually striving to find pleasure in every new moment, my spring break came to a happy close.

The drive back up. The three of us piled in the car and spent all of a Sunday driving me back to school, a drive full of giggles and jokes and smiles. It was nice to feel grateful for where I was and who I was with again.

In those final seconds of that drive, upon seeing the same Elon post office I saw on my first visit to campus almost a year prior, I said something that shocked us all.

“Elon! Look we’re home!”

My eyes got wide. I wasn’t expecting that. My mother looked at me with the same surprise as I had on my own face. This was the first time I’ve truly accepted Elon as my own, let alone my “home”.

The sound of healing.

The vacation had officially ended, along with the end of my dismal wading through my time here, and so- I deleted the countdown.

And things got so much better. So good, I now look back on this year with a smile, not a grimace.

Within the final weeks of my first year of college, I found my fit. I do not mourn the time it took to find it, I now just relish in the finding it at all.

I put down my phone. I lift my eyes. I go through my day as to feel grateful for the experiences the day brought. Rinse and repeat.

So yes, I spent my freshman year watching the seconds of my life tick away on a countdown, but the only counting I do now is making sure that each day full of those precious minutes and seconds simply count at all.

Do not wait for life to happen. Live it now.

Make it count.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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40 Small Things That Make College Students Happy

It doesn't take much...
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1. When class is canceled.

2. When the coffee shop you stop at five minutes before your 8 a.m. has a short line.

3. Coffee, coffee, coffee.

4. Open note tests.

5. Or even better, take home tests.

6. The unofficial assigned seating process that that takes place after the first week or so of classes.

7. Thursday nights. (because in college, Thursday qualifies as the weekend.)

8. Sales.

9. Or once again, even better, free things.

10. Specifically free food.

11. Dogs.

12. Dogs on campus.

13. Tailgates and Saturday afternoon football games.

14. Finding an already completed Quizlet for your exam.

15. Having an extra 30 minutes for a nap, and if you're lucky, an hour.

16. Netflix.

17. When your roommate takes out the trash.

18. Weekends after test weeks.

19. The rare blessing of a curve on an exam.

20. Getting out of class early.

21. How in college, it is socially expectable to wear a t-shirt everyday.

22. Being able to walk from class to class or eat in the dining hall without having to see anyone you know. (and thank goodness too because you probably don't look too good.)

23. Crossing things off of your to-do list.

24. Your best-friends that you make in college.

25. A full tank of gas.

26. Seeing a new face everyday.

27. Crawling back into bed after your 8 or 9 a.m. (or after any class that ends with a.m.)

28. Care packages.

29. No cover charges.

30. When adults tell you that it is okay that you have no idea what you want to do with your life yet. (regardless of what parents or your advisor may say.)

31. Pizza.

32. Finding out you weren't the only one who did poorly on the exam.

33. Deciding not to buy the textbook, and never needing it.

34. Finding the perfect gif to express how you're feeling. (Michael Scott just get it.)

35. Weekends at home because...

36. Pets.

37. Mom's home cooked pie and Dad's steak dinners,

38. Spring Break.

39. Road trips.

40. When it finally starts to cool down outside so you can show up to class dry instead of dripping in sweat.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Wideman

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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