9 months ago, I feel like I spent most of my summer days contemplating how university was going to be. First year, for many young adults, is the first time they get to experience true freedom. Although there is a small peck of fear in one’s chest as they wonder how they’ll be able to feed themselves, do laundry, take care of themselves without a parent looking after them, etc., most people reassure themselves by thinking, “Eh, how bad can it be? I’ll get to do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want, and things will work out as they go with the flow.” Students transitioning from high school to university look forward to the most ideal social life ever, wanting to make the best of their university life with true independence.
Now, as a student who has completed her first year in university, I feel that it is very difficult to “live in the moment.” I feel like no matter how hard we try, students are always stuck pondering about their future with each and every action. Everything we do ends up having a major impact on what is expected to come next. Most of us say we don’t like math, but as students we are always calculating the bare minimum grade we need in order to further continue the path towards our ambition, calculating how much we can eat without gaining that Freshmen 15, calculating how many more meals we can afford with the amount of money we have left in our meal account, calculating how much time we can spend doing the things we like,whether it be through procrastination, or to simply relax, so that we have just enough time to get all our studying done in time, etc. We are always planning for and calculating the probability of various outcomes of our future that we don’t even allow ourselves to fully become endorsed into that social life we idealized or the freedom we had been anticipating.
If anything, I feel that this is all because the unknown is something most people fear. Why? Because we know absolutely nothing about it. The ambiguity of the unknown nourishes our imagination, causing us to overthink and sometimes creatively come up with a list of worst case scenarios longer than our To-Do lists. As human beings, we know absolutely nothing about our future, but we do know what we want it to consist of. As soon as we have this idea, we feel that working towards having that plan fold out successfully is enough to diminish some of this ambiguity, allowing us to feel a little more at ease.
As students, we enter University with dreams and plans planned out in hopes of a successful future and so whenever we step away from this path we wish to follow to achieve such goals, we feel that we are once again clouded by this unknown – our future. We don’t really know what our future holds for us but as members of society who have conformed to the societal norms, we are only certain of what is expected of us. This combination of fear and pressure, I feel, is what may have caused many first years out there to not enjoy their first year as much as they could have.
Of course the stress, the pressure and the ambiguity will never cease to increase as we progress through our lives but perhaps learning from this is what will allow us to overcome our current milestone. Maybe we just need to learn to accept that it is worthless to fear the unknown and teach ourselves that things will always work out if we have the right mindset and determination. Why must we think about the nonexistant when we have so much of the present to observe and cherish? Once the present is gone, it becomes nothing but our past. Do we want to have more regrets building up on our past because we are focusing on this unknown we fear? Or do we want to make the most of what we have now, as we give it our best, enjoy ourselves, believing that the unknown isn’t worth stressing over as it will soon reveal itself anyway?