“Hey, want to go to Yosemite tomorrow?”
There’s a short list of things I expect to hear when I pick up a phone call from a friend at 9:30 am on a Monday morning – an invitation to go to a national park in less than 24 hours isn’t on that list.
“Yeah sure, I’m not doing much anyways.”
It’s true, I wasn’t.
Preparations began later that day. Frantic Airbnb browsing was followed by multiple trips to the market and a prolonged struggle to find a suitable portable grill (on a side note, I have since learned that I am not as good at grilling as I thought). The actual trip went off nearly without a hitch – aside from the few times we got utterly lost on the roads to and from the Park – and proved to be an awesome time. My friends and I hiked up mountains and through waterfalls, experienced beautiful nature and wildlife, and enjoyed the chance to hang out again after being apart for a year. We didn’t worry too much about planning or scheduling, we woke up each morning not knowing where the day would take us – but we always ended up finding something great to do.
And that’s the point of this post.
I feel that, as students, we often get too locked in to the daily order of our lives – class from 10 to 12, lunch, study, class again until 3, meeting at 6, study, repeat. We focus on grades and extracurricular commitments to the detriment of actually living our lives and taking advantage of the unique position we are in as college students surrounded by good friends in a new city full of possibilities. Now, it should go without saying that academics and extracurriculars take priority over aimless traipsing about, and that many students must work in order to get through college and don’t have the liberty to extricate themselves from a set daily schedule. That being said, though, the point remains that there’s a certain beauty in spontaneity that we students miss because of our tunnel vision.
Some of my fondest memories from Hopkins have come from unplanned walks to Hampden and out of the blue hangouts with friends, from ditching my planned laundry sessions or gym times. While my clothes and health might not appreciate consistently backing out of these commitments, a little flakiness has proven to only serve me well.
I think this point also applies on a larger, more imposing, scale. Even though I’m only a rising sophomore, I’ve seen a good number of my friends – at Hopkins or otherwise – worry themselves sick over internship placements, job opportunities, and career paths. While it’s certainly never a bad idea to get a head start on resumes or start mulling over potentially interesting careers, it’s important to take a step back and appreciate the present without worrying too much about where the future might find you. We should try to embrace spontaneity when considering the broader course of our lives, for the additional reason that there’s no benefit in locking on to one career or life goal so early on in our college experience. There are myriad amazing courses and educational opportunities at our fingertips, and it can only help us to keep our minds open, for the time being at least, to what we wish to pursue.
If there’s one thing that admissions pamphlets have taught me, it’s that college is a time of discovery and adventure – and I think its time we took that seriously.