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There’s still some time

Bianca Almada | Wednesday, January 23, 2013

About a week ago, a close friend asked me about my summer plans. To be honest, I had not thought much about them. We had just returned from winter break, and my brain was occupied with thoughts of happiness with my new 11 a.m. start schedule and anticipation for all the crazy memories my reunited group of friends was sure to make this semester. I was happy. I was content with my life where it currently was and the last thing I wanted to think about was the future, even a future that was only a few short months away.
My friend proceeded to tell me all about his spring break plans to conduct research with a peer group and went on to tell me about the international service program he was applying to be a part of for the summer. He had all these great ideas in his head, all these hopes of trying to figure out exactly what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He was not even worried about the fact the majority of these sorts of opportunities are usually reserved for upperclassmen.
I must have stared at him with a look of confusion as the phrases, “You’re already thinking about this kind of stuff?” and “Am I ridiculously behind?” ran through my head. This was supposed to be the in-between time.
College is interesting because it catches us budding adults at a very critical point in our lives. At this point, most of us are excited to move out of our parents’ houses and to finally make our own rules. We are ready to determine our own schedules, to handle our own courses of study and to take responsibility and ownership of our own lives for the first time. We are tired of asking for permission and searching for approval. We crave independence.
At the same time, however, most of us are not ready for everything at once. We still need our parents’ money, we still have plenty to learn and plenty to decide and we are in no way ready to settle down, choose a career and live like adults that contribute to society. We do not want to live in our own apartments, pay our own bills, make our own food or dress in suits for our grown-up jobs every day for the rest of our lives.
What is so remarkable about college students is most of us are excited by the very fact we do not have to do this just yet. We take comfort in knowing we have four years to figure it all out, and to have a lot of fun along the way. This is our in-between time.
Yet, so many of us take this for granted. And after thinking more about what my plan-ahead friend had shared with me, I feared I was becoming one of those people. Notre Dame students have the privilege of this time to learn more about themselves and their interests before choosing a lifelong career. In so many other places, children are pushed into the workforce at such young ages, having their futures decided for them. So while, yes, this is the college student’s time to have fun and be free from the pressures of workforce adulthood, it is also the time to start thinking about these things. We are blessed to have the power and the privilege to choose the direction of our lives and this is our time to do it.  
Since my surprise from my plan-ahead friend, I have begun to apply for things here and there – internships, summer employment opportunities, et cetera. I know what I want to study and what interests me, and I have a rough idea of the work I want to do. I have not, however, thought too much about where I want to live and work for the rest of my life, how many children I want to have or what kind of house and neighborhood I want to live in. I decided it is a little too soon.
I am entranced by college life. I want to enjoy it as much as I possibly can because this is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. So I take the time to be amazed by the impressive, intelligent people that I meet every day, and I often daydream about how we are all going to change the world someday. How exactly? I am not really sure yet. The beauty of it is we have some time to help each other figure it out.     
Bianca Almada is a freshman residing in Cavanaugh Hall. She is studying English, Spanish and journalism. She can be contacted at [email protected]
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.