July 17, 2019 | 92° F

BEZWADA: Small things are most important within grand scale of life

Opinions Column: Traipse the Fine Line


Two weeks ago, the Rutgers Astronomical Society invited people to observe the night sky. My roommate and I had finished the day’s classes. Paranoid as usual about missing deadlines, I checked my inbox yet again and discovered the email buried innocently among the mass of Sakai announcement notifications, advising appointment notices and CareerKnight reservations. For once, nothing clashed.

The journey to the Serin Physics building was a stupid, pointless one — we decided to board the bus instead of simply walking, wasting 30 minutes of precious time and missing all the pizza. We squandered 15 more minutes trying to find a single open door into the building and I had forgotten to bring a sweater — it was cold.

But none of that frustration compared to the vastness of the night sky. From the narrow confines of the elevator to the open rooftop high above the trees, the inky violet skies opened like a vacuum, stretching beyond the clouds and curving over the horizon. We could not see many stars, and the few visible ones were faded or far away, the only light emanating from the moon. But that only contributed to the comforting blanket of the sky. Although just for 30 minutes, nothing mattered except myself and the nebulae captured through the tiny lenses of the telescopes.

That empty sereneness accompanied us on our return home. My roommate strummed her guitar while I sampled a mug of her mint tea and watched "Game of Thrones" late into the night. Convocation and Carnivale were incredible but Sept. 28, 2017, will always be one of the best days of my college life.

College has just begun but time is already flying. It’s as if school started last week, and summer never happened. When tour groups stop along my route to class, I see myself of just a few months ago in the anxious, competitive eyes of high school students and wonder how I ever managed to transition out of that stage — if I did at all.

As students, we spend our academic life always in preparation for something else. In middle school, it was getting good grades for honors classes in high school. In high school, it was getting good grades and investing time into enough club e-boards to enter AP courses and attend dream colleges. As college students, it’s grades, clubs and connections to get a job. Every stage of our lives accumulates yet another commitment to manage in an increasingly short amount of time. So since an enormous school like Rutgers offers boundless opportunities, we want to seize them because we are frightened of missing out, of potential guilt and regret. It’s ironic that more so than finals, interviews or presentations, it’s opportunities that inflict the most pressure.

There is no problem with ambition. But as time goes on, life will only accrue more responsibilities. That is why moments of timelessness are so necessary — moments when you play Smash with your friend until 3 a.m., when you dare to attempt karaoke or garba, when you pretend to study when you are actually checking out Snap stories or reading manga, when you would rather sit and stare at the clouds from the meadow or at the moon from a rooftop — when nobody else matters but yourself. After trying to satisfy all of the other people and expectations in our lives, it’s these raindrops of memory that last the longest. Missing a grade on an exam is unfortunate, but I would not trade ranting for four hours at 16 Handles about Asian representation in America for anything. And it does not even have to be that long. Amy Lenhart, president of the American College Counseling Association and counselor at Collin College, confirms “even 10 minutes a day (of having fun) can totally rejuvenate you and reduce stress.” Extensive research documented in Scientific American also stresses setting aside duties to relax. College is fundamental for higher education, but it is also only four exciting, short-lived years we will never get back. We might as well enjoy every minute of it.

The summer between 11th and 12th grade, I attended a summer camp. Although only three weeks long, at its core was a grueling, exam-filled course on international relations. Ninety-five percent of it was spent studying a chapter until 2 a.m. daily, preparing research to debate and practicing for exams. But the last 5 percent comprised a very specific moment — a Sunday evening after we had returned to the dorms from a field trip. The sky was a dark lavender, the trees' silhouettes against the clouds: a boy strumming his guitar, kids laughing and me eating pizza on a beach chair. Those three weeks, I had memorized dozens of definitions. But my only memory was Sunday evening, lounging on a beach chair, more relaxed than any meditation could do.

Sruti Bezawada is a Rutgers Business School first-year hoping to transfer into the School of Arts and Sciences and double major in computer science and communications. Her column, “Traipse the Fine Line,” runs on alternate Thursdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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Sruti Bezawada

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