It’s 9 a.m. on a typical Monday morning. I sit in my cubicle nestled in the back corner of the office in the three-story Research and Development building for 3M’s Singapore branch.
I have an assignment due later this week, but all I can think about is making the 9,532 mile trip back home to the United States.
I’m not thinking about the unusual opportunity I’ve been given to be a summer intern in a country across the world, or about the picturesque countries I’ve traveled to during the summer, or even about my current assignment.
Instead, I keep a calendar in my phone that counts down to the second until I return to my home in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The day I waited all summer for finally came. But the moment I stepped off the plane, I began to notice the aspects of my summer abroad that I never appreciated — aspects I started to miss.
I thought the reason I wanted to return home was a combination of a culture shock to an unfamiliar place and an idealized nostalgia toward spending another summer at home. I imagined all of the family vacations I was missing out on and the late nights with friends. These feelings were so intense that I didn’t appreciate all the great things that happened every day abroad.
It wasn’t until I was reunited with the familiarity of my home, removed from the unknown of Southeast Asia, that I realized this was an issue I had been dealing with my entire life.
I realized that I never lived in the now.
I have never been content in the present. Sometimes I wish I could be young again to live a more relaxed life, and other times I wish I could be older to be more independent and mature.
But both yearning for the past and wishing for the future removes us from appreciating our daily lives.
For college students, however, living in the moment is easier said than done.
Many students are removed from their homes and families for the first time in their lives when they go off to college. Some students treat the change better than others, but just about everyone misses home and sometimes we even wish we could be young again and live under our family’s roof.
While some students are stuck dwelling on the past, others can’t get their minds off the future. For some students, it could be as near as next week’s term paper, for others it could be as far into the future as receiving a job offer after graduation.
I made it my goal this school year, and I hope every year following, to live in the now and appreciate my surroundings, instead of dwelling on the past or the future.
I’ve noticed myself learning and focusing more on each individual class. I’ve enjoyed satisfying moments and tried to learn from the bad ones while making sure not to needlessly think back on either without reason.
By encouraging more students to live in the now, I don’t mean to discount the memories or feelings that the past may introduce or disregard the benefits that actively thinking about your future can have. Instead, I mean to bring awareness to a problem that many students may have never noticed.
College can be a very competitive environment that causes a lot of unwanted stress on students. That stress can block our vision and prevent us from seeing the great things about life.
I implore any college student, or anyone who thinks they may not be living in the moment, to take a 10-minute walk outside and soak in their surroundings. Take in the sights and sounds of just being exactly where you are right now.
Andrew Hoke, ’20, is an associate sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]