The Beginning of the End?

As I am about to begin the last semester of my undergraduate career, I am saddened at the thought of graduating and leaving a place where I have invested so much of myself
during the past four years. When I first got to college, countless people—young and old—told me that this was going to be the best four years of my life. I was consistently reminded from my parent’s generation that life after college was nothing but work, bills, and having little to no friends or fun. It was easy to push this bleak future into the back of my head as a freshman, sophomore, and junior, but now as a senior, I actually have to face my future and face the real world—something that truly scares me.

But one question that I have to ask is: Is life after college really going to be some mediocre and endless struggle to gain what we so commonly refer to as “The American Dream?”

What I venture to argue is that the past four years are no different than the next four years of life. It will be another 1,460 days, 35,040 hours, 2,102,400 minutes, and 126,144,000 seconds—all the timing is the same, the only thing that is different is what we chose to do with that time. Many people will work for the vast majority of that time, few will travel, and even fewer to stop to enjoy even a couple of those 126,144,000 seconds of the next four years.

So, my aim in writing this is to challenge the statement that “college will be the best four years of your life.” I think that it’s all about the outlook that we have, and I really want to rephrase that statement and consistently use this one: “the next four years of your life will be the best four years of your life thus far.” In my opinion, life is about continuous improvement and if we all settle on mediocre jobs that work to pay the bills, but do not do something that gives us passion and fuels us, then college will have absolutely been the best four years of our lives.

I encourage anyone reading this right now, including myself, to take a look at your life, what you’re doing with it, and what you plan to do with it. Are you excited about it or are you just living day to day hoping to make it? If you are just hoping to make it, I encourage you to try something new—step out of your comfort zone. As cliché as it sounds, I urge you to explore, dream big, and love.

Explore the world and expand your comfort zone. Whether that means travelling to a part of your town you have never seen before and having a conversation with a homeless
person—trust me, most of them have crazy stories—or travelling to a distant part of the world in a country you cannot even communicate in. Exploring could also mean introducing yourself to someone in one of your classes or someone at work—you never know, that person could become your next best friend. In my experiences, stepping out of your comfort zone is a scary thing to do, but it always pays off.

Dream big and never stop dreaming. I know that sounds like something from an inspirational self-help book, but I think it rings true for every human being. Dreaming big coincides with my previous mention of continuous improvement. If we dream big, we may not accomplish enormous feats, but even the little victories we can get from keeping our dreams alive will work to increase our confidence in life and increase the likelihood that every year of our lives will be as good as a year in college. These little victories, as a good friend of mine so eloquently stated, “Can be as simple as financial independence, using your money for someone else once a week, or getting a second date.” They can be “things that are not typically thought of as dreams, but add up to construct a foundation that an awesome four years is built on.” Whatever these things may be, dream what YOU want to dream, not what others tell you to dream.

And most importantly, love. If people actually loved each other, our world wouldn’t be in the mess that it’s in today. Families wouldn’t be broken, wars wouldn’t be happening, and everything would be like meadows of daisies filled with golden retriever puppies. But wait, our world isn’t like that and it never will be, but all I am asking is that your love those you come in contact with. Don’t be quick to judge, but try to understand people who are different than you—in doing this you may even understand yourself better. Love those who are easy and hard to love and I know that you will be loved in return.

I hope that this post wasn’t too cliché, and I hope that you all gained something from it. Just remember, as the New Year, graduation, and many of life’s other timetables turn, you are the one who says what the best years of your life are. Make every four years the best years of your life.