Everyday the Cornell air becomes more and more littered with talk of the future. College is different: for the first time we are living and breathing school, but we have confused that with living and breathing a stress filled life. Prior to college, we were able to escape school at the end of the day and burrow in the sanctuary of our home. But now, this is it. College is work, work is stress, college is home, and after doing a few complicated Cornell mathematical equations, it’s clear that stress becomes home.
The constant preoccupation with making the right decisions, picking the proper classes, and ultimately feeling excited about the future is a necessary evil, yet maybe we are making deciding our careers a lot more complicated than it needed. In High School we are fixed on joining every National Honor Society, DECA, FBLA, MUN, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Key Club, all while simultaneously practicing the flute, playing soccer, and working a job. Let’s be honest, we were living in a strange hyper-reality where we had no commitments, yet 1,000 commitments at the same time. We were living our lives under the guise of definitively knowing what we wanted from the future because we had the title of college to grasp on. Whether the class was multivariable or AP US History, it ultimately all meant the same thing – college. This is just how the system is and, I guess, it works, but what we have to realize now is that the same rules do not apply. We cannot solely become steadfast on going to medical or going to graduate school; the present is too precious to be living in the future.
Our lives are a composition of the present moments; if we truly want the best for our futures, we must openly welcome in all the present moment has to offer.
For starters, in the midst of the 1000 things I had to do last week, I had a breakthrough moment where I realized that we are at Cornell and there must be some pretty important people coming to visit. A few Google searches later and it turns out there are a ton of Lecture series going on every week; I ended up at David Haskell’s The Song of the Trees book discussion. I was one of maybe 10 people under the age of 65, but, hey, what better way to welcome in life than to surround yourself with some chilling townies.
For the first time in a while, I was driven by a genuine connection to a topic rather than a subject that would just bring me the best grade. Identifying with what you truly care about doesn’t always come from a structured classroom. As prelims roll around it’s almost impossible to make time for anything other than the obligatory tasks, but bring your notes, study as you listen, or just give yourself some time to take a break. You can always just stop in, feel the inspiring juices and go on studying. Check out the Cornell events calendar. These events are in place for us and while the townies are welcome to join, so I think it’s only right that we show our faces too. Just two examples of the incredible opportunities include, Alize Carrere on Wednesday November 8th talking about creatively living in a climate changing world and on October 17th, Andrea Pitzer will be at Goldwin Smith talking about her book, One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps
Seeking outward for new inspirational influences is as easy as going to Olin and checking out a random book that sparks your interest. Find a graduate student and ask them what they are working on. Go to a random workshop for a graphic design, button-making, or attend a gorge clean-up event. Even just pick one event a month that is completely random; just like planning to go to the gym, it always sounds good, but is always the first plan to be scrapped. But if we set the standard low, we could swing one random lecture series or craft event per month.
It may seem simple, but by allowing our minds to be set free from the reins of schoolwork, we may come across random events that could be the driving influence and inspiration for our next pursuit. Hearing other people’s passions will remind us of our own. What are you busy doing when you stop looking at the clock and Mann kicks you out at midnight? Which homework do you always pull out first? These questions seem simple, but may remind us of what we truly love.
Everyday you hear another person talking about how they are drowning in stress, only holding on by the thread that still links them to their pursued title. Releasing ourselves from the regiments of the class schedule will prove to be much more inspiring than 6 hours at Mann and far more influential than your 400 person chem class (pro-tip: go to class). What am I trying to say here is, somewhere deep under the pile of requirements, pressures, and bragging points, our heart knows where it is supposed to go, you just to let it find its way.