Don’t get ahead of yourself, instead appreciate the moment

Sophie Oehler, Staff writer

Last January, I made up my mind that I hated Burlington. Online school had ruined my creative and academic spirit. 

Work consumed the time that I didn’t spend wasting away in front of essays on the computer. My apartment was small enough that if I threw a tennis ball at the opposite wall, the rebound would fly back and hit me square in the face. 

When finals ended, I hightailed it home to New Hampshire, where life was easy – full of early mornings at the horse barn, evening walks with the dog through Goldenrod and Queen Anne’s Lace, coffee and lunch on the back patio with my friends. 

I felt happy and content. 

But then when I returned to Burlington to face work, the beginnings of school and my hamster cage apartment immediately reminded me why I ran away in the first place.

I’ve spent a few nights wallowing in self pity, and through the fog of watery anger I’ve discovered something about myself. 

I spent much of my childhood daydreaming about my future.

I guess those visions were beneficial when it came to inciting ambition and motivation. But truthfully, they hurt more than they helped. 

The problem with my daydreams was that they created inaccurate representations of what college would look like. I imagined I would have roommates who I got along with constantly, shared clothes and stories with as we inevitably became best friends. 

Even if you have good luck with roommates, sometimes they’ll leave dirty dishes in the sink and take their own stress out on you. 

I imagined acing every class and ignored the reality of recovering from mental breakdowns over economics exams. I imagined having a huge circle of friends, but forgot that in order to make friends, you actually have to put yourself in social situations. 

Not only did these visions drain the life out of the reality that I created in college, they also distracted me from the present moment.

In the book, “The Wisdom of Insecurity,” philosopher Alan Watts stated, “Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present…there is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.” 

There is no point in over planning our future while our present slips away. We shouldn’t live with one foot out the door towards what is to come when we don’t even know what our futures hold. 

To the arriving first-years, I would advise you to throw away whatever preconceived visions you had of what your college experience will look like – good or bad.

Don’t lower your expectations, but re-evaluate the ones you have created. Acknowledge that life is not always what you dream it to be. 

And to my fellow seniors who, perhaps like me, are chomping at the bit to get out of the dumpster fire of pandemic plagued education, just chill out a second. 

Though you may be ready to begin the next step, there is still work to do on this chapter of our lives. 

And remember, even if your college journey was not all that you wished it to be, at least you have made a journey. 

You have grown and matured and learned so much. 

There will be plenty of time for the future, but far less for the present.