As a senior, freshman year seems like forever ago. A lifetime of coffee cups, late nights and marathon study sessions stands between 18-year-old me and 22-year-old me, and I almost don’t recognize the girl who walked onto this campus four years ago with too many boxes and not enough confidence.
It’s funny how memory is a burning book, the pages, chapters dissolving into ash even as you flip past them. Looking back, I can barely recall many of the details of these past four years. Of course, I remember the big things – the headlines, the semester I completely forgot to attend my Spanish final, the way my roommates and I laughed when we came home one evening to find our pit bull hiding from our cat. But the little things — conversations over coffee, the moments of spontaneous joy and the way the light shone into my dorm room through the peaked fourth-floor window — all fade into the same indeterminate haze of memory.
We receive a lot of advice throughout our years as students here. “Don’t drink the punch.” “Sit in the front row.” “Dress well, test well.” And, if you’re anything like me, you listened to very little of it. That said, as I go into my last spring break, my last set of midterms, my last two months of university, I find myself wanting to pass on the one piece of advice that I do remember, that I did listen to: Be present. In your classes, in your afternoons, in your walks to class — be present. At risk of sounding like a poorly written cliche, your time here is fleeting. Embrace it.
The second night of Welcome Week my freshman year, an upperclassman leader sat down next to me on Fountain Mall. I don’t remember his name, the tenor of his voice or the color of his hair – all are details that have faded to ash in my mind — but I do remember his message. He told me to savor the little moments. He cautioned me against hiding behind my phone on my walks to class, encouraging me to put it in my pocket, to look around me, to notice the details. He asked me to try being present in everything I did, just for a week.
Now, though I’ve certainly had the days I’ve walked to class with my nose buried in a book or my phone, I’ve also learned to savor being truly present in each moment, putting my headphones in with no music playing and just soaking in the world around me. I’ve tried to take time to relish in the moments, in the minute experiences that I likely won’t experience again after graduation. I’m not going to say these are the best years of your life – they aren’t. But they are likely the only years you will spend at Baylor, and by being intentionally present, you’ll create memories you can look back on long after this time in your life is over.
As I fill out my graduation card, I reach back to grasp these moments I never thought I’d miss, but in many cases, I find only ash and the shadow of a memory. Coming from a senior: Your time here really does go quickly. Be present in the minutiae of every day. Be intentional in your interactions, in your time. Don’t get so bogged down in the mundane that you forget to look around you, to enjoy the details. After all, long after graduation, you’ll want to remember the way campus looked in the spring, not just that you passed your classes.