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Opinion: Drive to succeed shouldn’t mean sacrificing important moments

It was Sunday morning as I sat in my pajamas on the couch accompanied only by my notes, laptop and emptied mug of coffee, my second of the day. The mug, shaped like the head of a Hawaiian totem poll, stared back at me with a mocking grimace stretched across its brown ceramic face. I was alone, stressed, and maddeningly staring down my antagonistic coffee cup.

It was Easter morning, and it starkly contrasted every other Easter morning I’ve experienced for the past 21 years.

Where were my sisters, barging into my room asking what I was going to wear to the Sunday morning service? Where was my father, with his disheveled hair, blue shorts and gray Ohio State T-shirt singing through the halls, stopping only to tease us about getting ready on time, with his playful smile reserved especially for holiday mornings? Where was my mother, already dressed and ready to go with her famous Easter morning breakfast casserole cooling on the kitchen table, next to our Easter bags, an annual guaranteed pack of gum, necessary toiletries and a few pieces of chocolate scattered at the bottom? Where was my 12-year-old dog Sam, waiting at the base of the stairs, tail wagging with his chocolate brown beagle eyes begging to be petted and smothered in kisses? Where were my loving grandparents, in their 80s, sitting at the table laughing, telling stories of past Easters together?

Where was I?

Not at home, but instead in my house in Columbus. Becoming the only person in the history of our family to skip Easter.

I know that not everyone who celebrates the holiday, can, or even bothers to go home. And I know that this year, I was not the only one torn between the upcoming final exams, final papers and final projects. I know that for some who visited family, they were torn between responsibilities and desire — their palms were sweating as they greeted relatives, haunted by the voice at the back of their mind saying, “you’re wasting time, you’re going to fail, time is running out.”

But that’s when it hit me. We might be young with our futures weighing heavily on our shoulders, upon our final grades and our GPAs. We might place the academic, the logical and the “right” plans above our family traditions and get-togethers.

We are so preoccupied with our limited amount of time and forget about our life’s limited time itself.

We think we’ll have next year, plenty of years to come to make up for past separations or absences.

I’m not saying that there is a right answer or a correct way to place values on time well spent. I think this is what makes the decision challenging for us students, heaped with heavy workloads at the end of the semester.

Of course, plan ahead. I am most likely guilty of underestimating how much planning this requires.

But whether it’s friends from home, siblings, pets, parents, grandparents, your faith or simple traditions that you miss and sacrifice, when do these things become a priority and when do they become a luxury?

Although we might be proud of our grades at the end of the semester, of our hard work and sacrifices, and the opportunities we receive as a result, when do we stop to think of the value of these sacrifices, of how much could change from one year to the next?

The truth is, time is running out. Whether it’s the time before finals or the times we can make to be with our loved ones.

I feel it is important to do everything in our power to make time for those people we care about. Because even if we think we have plenty of chances in the future, if we think we have all the time in the world, I think it is important to take ourselves out of the equation and ask ourselves, “how much time do they have?”

Frankly, missing Easter gave me a well-deserved slap in the face. Where do I draw that line? Where do I stop sacrificing friendships and relationships in order to get ahead?

Looking back on college, are we going to remember the inconveniences of multitasking? Or are we going to remember the savored trips home, the holidays, the ridiculous or even rebellious memories, and the great conversations on the Oval with friends?

The last few years we are running across the bridge from childhood to the adult world.

The fact is we are running across that bridge, it is a fast journey. Who do you want to be walking on that bridge with? And who will be there waiting for you on the other side?

In an ideal world, the goal wouldn’t be a number, a title, a GPA determining your worth. The true value would be of your life, your relationships and the memories you make along the way.

Don’t skip those chances. Don’t sacrifice those friendships. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride. It’s hard, but I think it’s worth sitting down and thinking about at the end of our lives, when we do not have any more time or room for excuses, how do we want to be remembered? What parts of our lives will we remember in the end?

One comment

  1. I found this to be a well written reflection on how fast time does pass up by and I am speaking as a woman in her early 60’s. What you think is important in your younger years will not always turn out to be what is really important as you grow older.
    I enjoyed this article. Thank you.

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