Remember that your life doesn’t start when you graduate; it has already begun


Kernel Opinion SIG

I recently overheard a student on the bus talking with her friends about how excited she was to graduate UK. “I can’t wait for my life to start,” she said.

I’ve thought a lot about what she said and the implications of this passivity, though I doubt she intended her statement to sound passive. Do our lives truly not begin until we walk across a stage and get a piece of paper in exchange for four years of work and thousands of dollars of debt? Is that it? What then?

I’m sure every college student has had this exact thought at one point or another, especially the closer we get to graduation. We tediously check off boxes on a requirement sheet and scan job postings in our fields of interest. This eagerness to graduate is healthy, as long as it does not distract us from our current activities.

We’re probably all familiar with the famous saying, “Wherever you are, be all there” or its close cousin, “Take time to smell the roses.” These clichés remain timely, though. We as college students must never wish time away, no matter how eager we are for the next step in life.

This mindset that “life will start after I reach this or that goal” is dangerous and widespread and it afflicts people in every area of life. Too often we as humans need goals in order to find meaning in life. We need to look forward to something. I’m no exception. But once we achieve our goals, if we did not maximize the journey, they will not fulfill us.

Life started for all of us long ago and by refusing to see the meaning in our daily activities, we rob ourselves of learning opportunities. College is a wonderful journey and is preparing us, not for life, but for the next step in our life journeys. If we choose to see experiences in our life journeys as merely stops along the way and not significant experiences, we allow apathy to breed in us.

I encourage you, no matter how close you are to the end of this lap of your journey, to relish it. Form relationships. Sure, have goals and look to the future, but be completely present right here, right now. Talk to your professors. Debate controversial theories. These are skills that we will need for our whole lives. For every diversion in our respective destinations, happiness in our position is a choice. If we cannot be happy where we are now, we will never be.