We are all familiar with those deadlines that seem to haunt us in our sleep. Deadlines for papers, tests, applications—I could show you a list of about fifty that I already have on my calendar for this semester! The big deadlines, though, like graduating, grad school, and getting a job inch towards us with each passing day. When I came to school, these big life deadlines seemed to become amplified. Everyone seemed to have a plan for their future, and I thought I did as well. However, these goals seemed to set up a concrete timeline for the rest of my life. I would get my biochemistry degree, go to medical school, enter a residency, start a family sometime in there, and, oh, I can’t forget to be happy while I’m losing my mind trying to accomplish all of this! As a college freshman with dreams as big as the sky, reality hit this past semester. Would I be able to live a fulfilling life on my path to the clouds? It always feels like there are never enough minutes left on the perpetual clock we call life.
However, I was talking to my organic chemistry professor the other day about where I was headed in a few years. I immediately started spouting off the timeline I have had constructed for years, and reluctantly ended by telling him I was becoming unsure if I could really do it all. He looked at me with a sarcastic smile and asked why I was in such a hurry. His question took me by surprise. No professor or adult had ever questioned my plan! In fact, I was usually commended for being “so prepared.” He went on to pass on some valuable wisdom I will remember forever. He said to just live for the experiences, and go into the world seeking adventure. It was just time, and in the end it would all work itself out. Time will keep ticking away, but it is about doing what you love because that will lead you down the right path. I left that meeting, and for the first time all year, I noticed a nice bench on the academic quad. The sun was shining for the first time in days, and I decided my study session in the library could wait.
I want to pass on this message to all of you. Whenever it seems like life is getting to be too much to handle, I encourage you to take a look around. Try not to get bogged down by deadlines, because in the end, you will arrive wherever you are meant to whenever you are meant to. Go on an adventure, experience something new, and maybe even take a seat on a bench.
Carly Henry is a college freshman at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania majoring in biochemistry with a minor is business. Originally from York, Pennsylvania, Carly was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2012. Learn more about Carly here!