Fresh Perspective | Start Living

Fresh Perspective is a biweekly blog about typical first-year experiences made strange by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Julia Smeltzer, Staff Writer

Every day, the sound of my alarm goes off at 8 a.m. I crawl out of bed, turn on all my lights, go through my skin routine that never gets neglected, plan my day in my multiple agendas and prepare to sit at my desk as the hands on the clock remind me that time is simply falling out of my grasp.

I wake up and I do the same thing every day, accepting that this is what life has in store for me. I’ll go to school for four years, maybe six if I’m feeling it, and then get a stable job that I will probably hate. Settle down in a suburban town outside a city. Maybe I’ll marry someone I like, have a couple of kids and that’s it. That is what my life will become.

That life that seems to be getting closer and closer makes my skin crawl. I don’t want that life. Sometimes it isn’t about what future or life I want to have when I’m older — it’s about the life that I want to be living now.

If you know me, you know I have a type-A personality. I like having a schedule, designated times for everything and a set routine for my day, especially for my schoolwork. I will totally blow you off to go do my psychology notes in Hillman until 10 p.m — no hard feelings, but I like having my life together. I’m the friend who people applaud for having her crap together, and I don’t want to lose that reputation.

But that has been bad for me in most respects of my life. I start prioritizing school and work over life experiences and spending time with friends. I say I will do things with my friends, and then my anxious self backs out at the last second and makes up a lame excuse. Sometimes I’d rather sit in the study room and get ahead in all of my classes than be out and stressing over my classes.

A big reason I feel like I’m just going through the motions every day and not actually living my life is because of me. I’m an anxious over-thinker with a need to please everyone and succeed in every aspect of my life. That is a recipe for failure. A lot of it stems from my fear of failing and the societal pressures to follow a certain path. It feels like a tug of war and I’m on both sides of the rope fighting against myself.

Part of me wants to stay in school and get my degree and find a job I totally love. The other half of me feels like I’m using school as a security blanket and as an excuse for not going out and traveling the world and crossing everything off my bucket list.

I feel like it seems cliche to say that I want to drop everything and just go. Go off somewhere I’ve never been and just live and experience the world. The reason I have grown so much in college is that I moved away from the environment that shaped every aspect of who I am — not that who I was for the past 17 years was bad, but it doesn’t seem like me anymore. So I can’t help but think of how much more growing I have left to do and wonder if I need to go out and live to continue my growth.

I’m sure every young adult feels like they are in their own tug of war right now between the life they are living and the life they want to live. Societal pressures condition us to stay in school and get a job, but then we are tempted by our own curiosity and craving for an adventurous life. I feel like the key to actually living a meaningful life is finding the happy middle between both sides.

For now, I’ll stay in school and continue to learn about what I’m passionate about, but it is time that I stop using that as an excuse to not fully live. It is totally up to me, and to you, whether we live a mundane life or we live a life that is worth it.

We can choose every day how we want to live our lives. We can waste our time or we can go out and do something meaningful, something that makes us feel alive. Now, I’m not saying you must drop your life now and make this big decision that brings monstrous changes — but do something little every day or every week that ignites something in you. For me, it is time I stop prioritizing school work over friends and experiences because while my head is stuck in my books, my life will pass me by.

Go out and live the life you want to live now because before you know it, time will have slipped between your fingers, too.

Julia Smeltzer writes primarily about mental health and self-care. Write to her at [email protected].