GUC: Graduation calls for careful time allocation

Opinions Column: Macro to Micro

Many of our friends are leaving this year. April, as it does each spring, comes in a sudden manner, bringing its blooming cherry blossoms seemingly overnight. These days I hear seniors, their eyes pensive and brows furrowed, speak about graduation day. Post-college life for some may hold concrete plans but there is nevertheless an uncertainty of the conditions and flavors of the near future. Listening, I find myself engulfed in a particular type of emotion, tinged with sadness and despondency, but also one that urges immediate contemplation. Just as last April has led to this April, this year will bring about the next year in a quick stride. My college years are flying by just as one’s youth is eventually seized away. Questions of time allocation for the following (unguaranteed) years arise in my head. The graduation of others reminds me that my own graduation is not too far away and forces me to consider how I shall invest in the remainder of my time.

The phases of an average human life can be compared to the four years spent in college. The youthful, helpless years of one’s early life are like that of one’s freshman year. Unlearned, inexperienced, but eager and energetic. The questioning era of adolescence marks the time of confusion that one might feel as a sophomore forced to decide upon a field of study. Junior year is reminiscent of the regulated, the familiar and the orderly nature of adulthood. And finally, senior year holds the joy that one might feel when inching towards retirement yet it also holds the inherent despair of old age, the fear of departing what one has come to internalize as one’s own property — namely one’s life in this world. And also the potential anxiety that graduation may induce in opening the doors to unknown paths external to this campus and community. Just as admission into college can be seen as admission into existence, graduation, then, exists not only within the architecture of college but also in the architecture of life — the moment of one’s death. However, whether such graduation is to be paralleled with the exiting of current existence or merely to be understood as a type of departure and transformation from this mode of existence into another is be determined through personal investigation.

Often times, in popular culture, proclamations like “Live like there is no tomorrow!” or “You only live once!” are made. Such statements are meant to encourage one to maximize happiness in life and to make choices that bring immediate pleasure. Yet, the propagation of such modes of thinking are arguably only a mechanism meant to offset the unease that the thought of death brings. Reflecting on death is an uncomfortable task. It is often easier to merely focus on the present and push aside all future events regardless of how certain their arrival might be. In many ways, humans are prone to procrastinating the dilemma of their own existential state. However, if an underclassman in a university were to constantly procrastinate on post-graduation plans, and avoided even the thought of graduation, it might be considered careless and unwise. Students are encouraged to think about long-term goals, starting from freshman year. Seniors who do not seek interviews for jobs, who do not apply for graduate school and do not give any thought to the future are, no doubt, bound to be considered heedless. After all, college is meant to be a period of investment one makes for the years beyond it. It is not meant to be meaningless nor for simply the sake of saying “I went to college.” The knowledge and the skills attained are to be tools for further growth. Thus, the one who lives for the sake of living inflicts harm only upon one’s self. Temporary comfort is, well, temporary. And we are not built to be permanently satisfied by passing pleasure.

The general thought entwined in this presented analogy, albeit the imperfections it may hold, can surely be grasped. I am of the firm belief that we are all students in our existence and it should be the objective of each student to maximize not their happiness, but their knowledge for it is the latter that will eventually deliver the former in its fully satisfying form. I will miss some graduating seniors. Feeling sadness and longing for their presence in the upcoming semesters can not be avoided. Yet, their leaving has possibly led to the reveal of a particular truth of reality or at least a mere grain of it. And so, perhaps deserving to be dwelled upon now is only complete gratitude.

Aysenur Guc is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. Her column,"Macro to Micro," runs on alternate Wednesdays.

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