On Living For The Future | The Collegiate Life Crisis

Guys! I think I just found the title of my next book.

I’m joking.

Sort of. “Collegiate Life Crisis” just seems like a fun title!

Moving on. As a student, I find myself thinking about the future a lot. When I was in high school, I thought about and studied for college. Now that I’m in college, I think about and am preparing for post-grad life.

This isn’t something I do on my own. Society makes it this way. But I feel like this creates a very unhealthy mentality:

Middle Schooler: “Life will really start when I go to high school”

High Schooler: “Life will really start when I’m in college”

College Student: “Life will really start once I graduate college”

Post-Grad: “Life will really start when I have a job I love and make enough money to do so-and-so”

In A Relationship: “Life will really start when we’re engaged”

Engaged: “Life will really start when we get married”

Married: “Life will really start when we buy a house and have kids”

This will just keep going and going if we don’t change our mindset.

I don’t think people have the mindset about when “life will start,” but we definitely spend time thinking about the future. Sometimes I find my mind spiraling towards places I want to travel to and when I’m going to move out. This isn’t a bad thing. Thinking about the future gives me a lot of motivation, but we do have to enjoy the present.

It all boils down to contentment. 

Are you okay with everything you have? Are you consciously grateful for your advantages? My friends always comment on how positive I am and how I always mention the bright side of the situation. Don’t get me wrong. I’m naturally very cynical, but I’ve been able to move past that because of one experience.

The Secret To Contentment: The One Experience That Made It Click For Me.

I bet you think I’m going to talk about my brother’s autism and how “it could’ve been me.” Yeah…no. I never thought like that. It’s never even crossed my mind.

A few days after I finished middle school, my uncle’s friend lost her family. She was driving back in a separate car from a party. She went grocery shopping I think, while her husband and son went home. When she got home that night, her house had caught on fire and her husband and son were dead.

This isn’t a fake story. This actually happened. She lost everything.

My fourteen-year-old mind absorbed that story and never let it go. It truly reminded me how temporary everything is and that I could lose everything in a matter of seconds.

I had thought about this before in a practical sense. My parents would always hammer into my brain that they were going to die and that I would have to take care of Mysoon. You can read about that in the linked post, but basically, I thought about insurance stuff and the logistics of things.

But this struck me in a completely different way. I was so much more appreciative of everything. Whenever I say goodbye to anyone, I always give them a hug. If they’re off doing something else, I either go over to them to say goodbye or call them to the door.

Whenever they ask why, I joke that they’ll remember that hug if I die in a car accident on the way home.

(I have a very morbid sense of humor)

I carry this mindset with me all the time. Whenever I’m eating food, I think about how lucky I am and about how there are so many people who aren’t as lucky. (Fasting during Ramadan caused me to think about world hunger a lot more than most 10-year-olds). Sometimes when I read, I remember my dad telling me about not having access to a lot of books in Bangladesh and reading cardboard boxes because he loved reading so much.

Near the end of my Freshman year of high school, I heard a speaker say that if the sun didn’t come up one day, our blood would freeze over within a few hours. Whenever a friend or I was having a crappy or exhausting day at school, I’d automatically say, “If the sun hadn’t come up this morning, our blood would’ve frozen over by now. And that sound really painful.” Then I’d instantly feel better.

All the pretty Pinterest quotes say that the key to contentment is to be grateful, but I think the secret is remembering that things can be so much worse.

I think it’s harder to think of things we’re thankful for constantly. People’s minds very easily go to the negative, so I think it’s a good idea to use that and remember that things could suck way more.

I know it sounds depressing, but trust me. It works. One of my friends called me an “optimistic-pessimist,” because I talk about negative things, but put a positive spin on them, to which I responded, “that’s an oxymoron. I’m just a happy realist.”

Here’s the thing. Living for the future is a waste of life. Thinking about the future is a privilege that we have. We don’t have to think about surviving the day and not worrying about the next. But we need to appreciate what we have now because we won’t always have it.

This is your assignment:

  • Go up to a person you see every day and take a little for granted. Give them a hug and tell them you love them.
  • When you are doing your homework, remind yourself that there are students out there that don’t have enough paper. In middle school, I had a teacher from Austria who was appalled by the fact that so many American students skip lines and don’t fill the page because students in other countries he’s taught in fill up every single bit of space because they don’t have a lot of paper.
  • When you are up writing an essay, remind yourself that not everyone has the advantage of going to college. You’re one of the lucky few.

 

I’ve recently found my thoughts drifting towards the future, which always seems better and “shinier” than the now. I need to remind myself that I don’t know what the future holds. Terrible things happen randomly and at any time, so I need to appreciate what I have now. I need to remember to read good books, text my friends, play video games with my brother….because I don’t want all my time to pass by thinking about what happens next.

The next thing is going to happen on its own anyway. Why waste energy waiting for it to happen?

 

I hope this post made you think and feel more appreciative. Are you experiencing the “collegiate life crisis?” What is your secret to contentment? What are you grateful for today.

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