Today, I looked at my to-do list and realized that I had been meaning (and failing) to call my cousin for quite a while. It’s hastily scribbled down on multiple to-do lists throughout my room, but it wasn’t until I received a reminder from my sister that I realized how long it had truly been. The answer? Far too long.
I feel more than a little guilty, which would make sense if you’d ever met my cousin. He’s a thoughtful person, as evidenced by the time he drove an hour to my town at five in the morning to help out at a high school event my club needed volunteers for. I owe him for that, and probably much more. And yet, I haven’t spoken to him in months because every day I put calling my family at the very bottom of my to-do list. It always seems to me that they can wait another day, unlike my tests, papers and assignments — the kind of things I highlight in yellow for urgent or important. It never seemed odd to me, until I realized this is part of a much larger mindset. I, along with most people I know, spend very little energy critically assessing what I spend time on and what I am choosing to let fall through the cracks.
Somehow, I am constantly failing to prioritize the things I know matter most — whether it be nurturing relationships, taking time to focus on my health, or any number of other subtle, overlooked habits.
This is something that has only become more evident this particular season. Spring has begun to poke its head out — just look at all the buds in Washington Square Park. The end of the school year is approaching, which is especially important for people like me who are nearing the end of their first-year of college. Endings tend to inspire reflection, nostalgia and oftentimes something much worse — fear. Over and over, day after day, my friends and I ask the same question: Where does the time go?
No matter how you spin it, time is not your friend. Maybe you’re a first-year like me and you’re marveling at how quickly something that was once amazing has become routine. Or maybe you’re a junior or senior, realizing that the clock is running out much faster than anyone could have prepared for. Either way, the young adult years seem to be a phase where the numerous changes we face — in such short periods — make life feel as if we are stuck in fast-forward, with far less time than we think. In the frantic rush that is a college student’s life, things become forgotten.
So recently, I’ve been questioning my initial thoughts on what’s important. I have been trying, as I believe everyone should, to live my life with a little bit of intention, instead of letting the busyness of life dictate my actions for me. It is, in a sense, a very easy and accessible form of spring cleaning. Clean out your to-do list, and find what you’ve been missing. It was simple for me. All it took was one look at my schedule to realize that I had become the kind of person who was somehow always too busy to call her family. The fix was easy, although realizing the problem was not. For you, it could be something else entirely. The key is to be willing to recognize it instead of letting it sit unacknowledged on a series of different to-do lists.
As the academic year winds down and I reflect on how quickly time moves — especially for a college student in New York —- I’m slowly realizing that neglecting what is actually important for what feels urgent is unsustainable at best and incredibly destructive at worst. Life is about balance. It could be about prioritizing your mental health, or eating healthy, or any number of aims. But at the end of the day, your priorities reflect your life trajectory and your character. Choose them on purpose, and then let your habits reflect that.
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