I believe I was in either late elementary or early middle school. I’m pretty sure I had said something like “I can’t wait for Christmas break!” or “Can it be Christmas break already?” and my father, in a semi stern tone, said, “No, never wish for time to go by faster.” And it has stuck with me since.
The actual conversation we had is fuzzy and I don’t even know if I quoted him or myself right, but throughout the years those words have really affected the way I view each stage of life. I always chose to be content exactly where I was, did my best to soak up every moment and cherish the people I was with, because I knew time would eventually take them away. Time would eventually change everything.
All throughout high school I encountered people who did not live by this same philosophy, especially during my senior year. My peers were constantly counting down the days until graduation and saying how they couldn’t wait to leave.
This pained me a little. They all seemed so unhappy with where they were in life, so much so that the only thing they were looking forward to was leaving. I mean I get it; high school is not always fun, homework hardly ever is, and Coppell (my hometown) can be quite boring. But there were so many good things as well. Good friends, football games, being close to family, and for me personally, the notorious IB program.
While the IB program is known for its academic rigor and countless essays, it’s also known for its quality teachers (at least at my old high school) and the strong community found by those who are in it. I had plenty of friends in IB who absolutely dreaded the program and regretted going into it because of the heavy work load. I was never able to relate because I adored the program. Sure it was hard, but it was also rewarding. My favorite aspect of IB was the community. The teachers were close with their students and while my fellow students and I struggled, at least we struggled together.
At the beginning of my senior year, I was aware of how quickly school years went by, and I knew I would miss my little IB family, so I made a conscience decision to really savor every moment. Multiple times a week I would remind myself to bask in the now and encouraged other people to do so as well.
One might argue this was easier for me than someone else because I actually enjoyed my classmates/teachers/classes/IB, but I would argue that I also made the choice to enjoy these. I made the choice to focus on the fun parts of school, to focus on why it was worth cherishing. I chose to get along with others and have fun (and this meant doing my best to not complain)!
And to my surprise, when the time came, I felt ready to leave. In September 2017 I thought for sure I would leave high school with a heavy heart. Instead I was ready for the next chapter. I was able to look back knowing I had really soaked up each moment, and didn’t try to squeeze any of them away.
The following months were harder for me to cherish, especially the month leading up to my departure. All my friends had left for college and my days consisted of reading, watching Friends, and working. I was bored and more than ready to get things moving. But throughout this month, the words of my father rang in my head over and over, and I had to remind myself to enjoy where I was in life and not to wish for time to go by faster than it already does. I thought about what I wouldn’t have in a few weeks. I chose to enjoy the company of my family, the freedom I had to truly relax and take my time, I even found myself enjoying work.
Often on social media, I see others posting a countdown for the days until a holiday break or about how they “can’t wait” to go to (insert place). Trust me, I know the feeling of those last few days at school before a break. They can be agonizing. But when I remember how brief each stage of life truly is, being present becomes easier.
All too often I feel as though people look back on a time in their life and realize how quickly it went by, and they long for those moments again. If there is anything I’ve learned in my 18 years of life, it’s that time will always go by faster than you think it will. I don’t want to look back on any experience and feel as though I didn’t squeeze out every last drop. I want to be present, intentional, genuine, no matter where I find myself.
A once saw a poster hanging next to a teacher’s door in Coppell High School that read “BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.” To me this says to make the most of where you are at, no matter where that is. Take advantage of the stage of life you are in. Learn from it. Grow from it. Enjoy it. Don’t wish it away.
With all that said, life is short, my time here in Slovenia is even shorter. I don’t have to remind myself to not wish for time to go by faster, but instead I have to remind myself to really cherish every single moment I spend here. It might sound strange, but I try not to look forward to the future. As excited as I am to see all that God has in store after I leave this place (whatever it may be, I have no clue), I try my best to be focus on right now.
Time goes by fast, it goes by slow. What’s most important (as cliché as it sounds) is that we make the most of it and use what little we are granted.