Nearly a month has passed since first-years moved onto campus to start their careers as Princetonians. For all of us, the arrival of the school year coincides with the disappearance of most of our free time, and very rarely do you hear students on campus complaining about how they have nothing to do. Yet through the constant running around, all of the lectures, readings, problem sets and extracurricular activities, we sometimes lose sight of the other things around us: those memories that may not mean much now, but before we know it, will become the most important part of our college experiences.
Seniors like myself are expected to balance the future with the past, to be excited for the next phase in our lives while remembering the best of the past four years. More often than not, however, seniors spend more time worrying about the former than enjoying the latter. Jobs, theses, and graduating take up so much of our minds that we forget to embrace everything that comes in between now and then.
For me, the most enlightening experience of this year came just a few days ago at the Triangle Show. As two students came onstage to sing “Old Folks Home,” a rush of nostalgic joy came back to me, and though I had not heard the song in nearly a year, I remembered all of the words like I had just heard them yesterday. By the end, all of my friends around me — all seniors themselves — were holding hands, singing along, and embracing a memory that we will all probably have for the rest of our lives. At the same time, we also felt bittersweet, knowing that it could have been the last time we ever heard the song as undergraduates.
Why did it take three years for us to appreciate the show for what it’s worth? Perhaps more importantly, how many memories like that have we missed as a result of worrying about everything else?
As Princetonians, everyone is rightfully concerned about their future careers. However, sometimes I believe that everyone is a bit too overly concerned about the road ahead. Some of the best advice that I have received as a Princetonian is affirmation that everything is going to be alright. You will finish that class successfully. You will turn in a thesis. You will end up with a job that can lead you to your future career.
Navigating Princeton sometimes feels like you are trying to juggle ten balls at once. Sometimes, one of those balls drops, but is that the end of the world? Keeping some perspective and taking time to enjoy the memories of Princeton is one of the best remedies to counter the tribulations ahead. Embracing the best of times, and remembering that some of these moments will last you a lifetime, makes that sixth class or that upcoming assignment seem a little less worth the stress that goes into it.