Edit Desk: Learning to be present


Whether it be making the overly ambitious ask of my friends to train for a marathon with me after experiencing my first runners-high, or my mind jumping straight from declaring my major to envisioning a future as a professional journalist, I fail time and time again to live in the moment.

While I acknowledge it is important to set goals for oneself, I also recognize the unrealistic and far-too-futuristic nature of the expectations I have for myself. I ran a few miles without a stabbing cramp in my side, but that doesn’t mean I’m close to ready to crank out 26.2 miles. As for journalism — I love it, but who knows what life holds for me career-wise. 

As I near the end of my sophomore year at Lehigh and look back on what I have accomplished thus far, I realize my fondest memories are ephemeral moments I shared with my friends and loved ones — which I no doubt failed to fully appreciate at the time.

I’ve spent much of my life doing things almost solely based on how they would help or hurt me in the future, without pausing to think about what my present self needs and wants. 

I’ve tended to focus on minute, inconsequential details and dramas, convincing myself they’re going to make or break the trajectory of my life. Now, I try to tell myself, “it’s not that deep.”

Stress has been the subject of many studies, and research found it tends to narrow us. For me, both stressors and opportunities have this effect. When a new hobby, academic opportunity or other initially enters my life, my instinct is to restrict my mindset and pour all of my energy into that one thing.

This stockpiling of energy into a single source can lead to a crisis when the activity loses the luster it originally held and I find myself without an outlet.

Thankfully, for the past few months, I’ve begun working to correct these flaws, altering my attitude and frame of mind.

When problems arise, I ask myself: Is it really worth getting upset or stressed over?

Developing gratitude for what I have and an awareness of what is and isn’t worth my energy has changed my perspective on the world. 

Though I pride myself on the little things when they are good, I don’t dwell on them if they aren’t. I understand the inexplicable privilege I have to be where I am, and I remind myself of that when complaining about silly things. 

For example, I used to stress too much about getting a lower grade than I wanted on an exam or assignment. I now realize that one bad grade doesn’t define me or my intelligence, nor will it be detrimental in the long run.

Still, knowing that I am more than my grades and achievements has not given me a passive attitude toward working.

My “living in the moment” mindset doesn’t diminish the value of hard work. Instead, it places my projects and goals, which once served as my sole focus and purpose, alongside daily activities I once valued less.

Being able to appreciate these seemingly insignificant moments has gifted me a much more forgiving attitide toward life.

I recognize certain actions will help or hinder my future, but I also know tomorrow is never promised. Whether it be going for a walk and listening to music, catching up with my family over the phone or just goofing around with my friends, every moment is one I want to be wholeheartedly present in.

I know I’ll never be able to “go with the flow” like I wish I could, but I’m learning to live each day to the fullest and appreciate each fleeting moment as it comes.

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