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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Time flies­—don’t miss out!

Published: September 16, 2011
Section: Opinions

Do you ever watch a really awful YouTube video and say to yourself (or to the person who made the video): “Well, that’s two minutes and 45 seconds of my life that I can never get back?” That applies to other outrageous ways to squander time as well. Once time passes, it stays past. And until we can stop the aging process or build a time machine (one of which is bound to happen within the next 100 years), that’s the way that it will stay.

Now we all know that when you cross out a date on the calendar, that date is eliminated forever. But if you let this weigh on you, your mind will turn to peanut butter. The date you just crossed off from your calendar, Sept. 15, 2011, will never again occur in history.

Many people let this fact go right over their heads, failing to realize just how quickly life is going by. For most of us, life is flying by before our eyes, and we are mere spectators, allowing it to happen. When one of our friends reminds us of the date, we fall out of our seats: How can it be the middle of September already? It feels like just the other day it was the end of August.

I think it was Ferris Bueller who said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I will be the first to admit that I have missed a lot of my life. I’ve wasted so much time stressing out about things I didn’t need to, being angry for no reason, and playing those silly pop-up advertisement games (nab the thief and win an iPod Nano!).

Now this begs the question: What would be considered a constructive use of our time? Nothing. All time is waste. It’s just a matter of choosing how we want to waste it and living with that choice.

Nevertheless, now is the time in our lives when we need to make the best use of our time. That means, as Ferris advised us to do, taking a break once in a while to look around. For many of us though, this is a physical impossibility. As I’ve written many times before, all of us jampack our schedules with clubs, classes and commitments. And when you factor in the four hours per day we need to eat, shower and go to the bathroom (notice I didn’t put sleep into that category), that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to follow Ferris’ advice.

The problem is that we are all compulsive overachievers. We feel obligated to sign up for every club on campus, to visit each and every one of our professors during office hours, and to study 28 hours per day. And while these things may lead us to have a great deal of future success and an inspiring work ethic, they will almost certainly not make us happy. And I think that many of us tend to forget that above all else, we’re here to be happy. We’ve come from all around the world to go to this university—granted, a great deal of us are from Long Island, New Jersey and Massachusetts. And ironically, those are the very same people who plop their head in a book for four years and let their lives pass them by.

Now at this point, you may be thinking that it’s rather difficult to prance around in a field of daisies when you have an organic chemistry exam coming up that you’re scared to death about. But believe it or not, how you perform on the test will not leave any lasting impact on you, save for a tiny crimp in your GPA. And 15 years from now, you’ll remember the night you spent playing “Never Have I Ever” in your best friend’s suite more than you’ll remember the bad grade you got on one minuscule exam.

Case in point: During my sophomore year of high school, I had my AP World History exam the day after my 15th birthday. All my friends told me to go out and have fun on my birthday and not worry about the test. I considered doing just that, but the words of my teacher rang in my ears: “If you don’t get a five on this exam, you will never be successful” (or something like that). And, of course, I shrunk in fear of failure and spent my birthday locked inside my bedroom like a prisoner on death row, trying my best to absorb 6,000 years of world history.

Ironically, I did not get a five on the exam. All that work and studying and birthday-torture and I walked away with a four, which is the grade I would have gotten if I had spent my birthday running around with my friends. Needless to say, four years later I wish I had spent my birthday differently.

What I’ve learned from experiences like this is that it’s not worth it to waste the little time we have stressing over every little thing—especially when we won’t remember any of that in the future. We won’t remember the cramming or the late-night paper-writing. But we will leave here with the memories of how much fun we’ve had and how amazing these years have been.

I mean, that’s how everyone remembers their college years. When you talk to your aunts and uncles about it, they almost always tell you two things: “Those were the best years of my life” and “It goes by quickly.” I always hear that one: “It goes by quickly.” When you talk to seniors graduating from Brandeis, they will tell you it feels like just yesterday they were petrified first-years trying to find their way to the SCC with a campus map in hand.

It feels like yesterday that I was that person and unloading my bags from my car to move into Reitman Hall. Even further back, it feels like yesterday that I was graduating from high school, sitting in the sweaty gymnasium listening to my principal mispronounce the name of my valedictorian.

So for your own sake, pull your head out of your calculus textbook, crawl out of your cocoon and take a moment to look around at where you are; consider where you came from and how far you’ve come.

College isn’t all about stressing ourselves out until we blow out all the arteries in our brain and our head falls off. If all we were here to do was learn, we would be better off taking online courses and living at home.

So here is my message to the first-years, who have four years ahead of them, as well as the sophomores, juniors and seniors who still have plenty of time left as well: Life is too short to have regrets. Life flies by too quickly; go out and experience it.