In the film “Mr. Nobody,” a 118-year old man named Nemo is beckoned to recall the details of his life. There are several points where he has to make crucial decisions in his life, such as the choice between living with his mother or his father, settling with the girl that he’s just okay with or risk waiting for the one who can make him truly happy. While contemplating the decisions he had to make, Nemo says, “We cannot go back. That’s why it’s hard to choose.”
Now that I am on the eve of my final semester of college, the theme of “decisions” is constantly on my mind. I often find my feelings of relief that school is finally over being replaced by regret, because of the fear that I did not do enough. Like why didn’t I ever go on a study abroad? Hell, why didn’t I even make the effort? Sure, it’s expensive, but there are scholarships available and it wouldn’t have hurt to try! Or, why didn’t I ever try learning aikido? I signed up for the email list, but I never bothered going to a meeting. The worst is when you try to find an explanation for not doing something and, despite searching desperately for anything else, you keep stumbling upon the most unforgivable reason out there—laziness. We often try to hide our laziness from ourselves by appealing to how “busy” we are, even though we know we just wasted two hours watching Netflix yesterday. Or we try to convince ourselves that there is always “next time,” because we just didn’t feel like doing anything that day. Unfortunately, we often don’t realize how quickly “next time” becomes a week, a month and a year before it’s too late.
During my senior year, I participated in Alternative Spring Break for the first time and travelled to Atlanta. It was a wonderful experience and by the end I was offered a chance to work as a coordinator for next year’s trips. Unfortunately, I will be graduating in December and they could only have people who were going to be students the entire academic year on staff. It was then that I realized that the doors that I had been saving for “next time” or when “I felt like it” are finally beginning to close on me before I got the chance to peek inside. Just what would my life had been like if I had joined Alternative Break just one year earlier instead of putting it off?
Friends, don’t let my mistakes be yours as well. Although I realize that this may have come across as a letter of self-pity, I only did it to convince you to seize the moment that is within your grasp. I hate to say it, but you simply won’t be able to do many of the things available to college students once you move on to the next stage of your lives. When else in your life will you have the chance to learn Korean, then attend the service of a totally different religion on the same night? Most people never even get the opportunity to do half the things offered on campus daily.
Like Nemo, you have the chance to get a taste of all these possible paths for you to travel down. So, while the doors still remain open for you, take the time to glance inside as many as you can until you finally find the ones that will captivate you enough to go inside. Carpe diem.