Sometimes it takes a literal slap in the face to wake up to reality and think critically about what direction you’re headed. This came to me in the form of a heavy metal door to the forehead the winter of my sophomore year. To clarify, yes, I did walk headfirst into a door. But, I’ve since been able to link it to the fact that I was so busy at that time that I wasn’t sleeping and thus was careless enough to literally and metaphorically walk into doors. It was in this moment of sleepless confusion that I realized all that I was involved in was much more of a drain on my life than something that fulfilled me. So much of our life is spent partaking in experiences that we simply don’t care for. We ride the conveyor belt of life and end up spending vast amounts of time in draining circumstances. It’s important to continuously ask ourselves how many situations we participate in daily that don’t result in any positive, life-giving ends.
As students, we’re inherently pulled in many directions and often find ourselves in positions where our excitement and creativity is zapped. To fit certain projected images, we often overexert ourselves by becoming leaders for half a million organizations in addition to having hundreds of circles of friends. We are regularly pressured into keeping up with certain appearances that may not be true to form or are simply exhausting to uphold. For example, how many times have you gone out on the weekend just because it’s what you “should” be doing, regardless of whether it’s fun for you? What groups are you a part of that don’t have the same spark that they used to, and now are more arduous than exciting? It’s necessary to look at why exactly we continue down paths that we don’t find meaningful, even when we have the choice of whether to partake.
Discovering what gives us life and fulfillment is really discovering our inner spark. Every Boston College student derives fulfillment from something, yet, we often fall into comfortable ways of doing things that may be more draining than gratifying. We find ourselves partaking in experiences that we know are not the best for us, but often continue because it’s comfortable and what fulfills us may not align with society or our school’s model of success.
Fulfillment can come in all forms: whether it is talking long walks, playing with dogs, having conversations with strangers, volunteering with the marginalized, analyzing spreadsheets, taking pictures, playing music, or reading a book. It is so easy to get bogged down in the nitty-gritty reality of quotidian life only to find out that we’re actually not going out in the world and doing what we truly enjoy. Although it may not always be easy, practical, accessible, or logical, staying loyal to what gives you the most happiness is really where truth lies. The poet Mary Oliver asks readers, “What it is that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Our time at BC, and life in general, is short—so why fill it with empty experiences? She invites us all to think about where we find those life-giving situations and moments, and how to hold them in the utmost regard, with or without a metaphorical, or literal, slap in the face.