Choose Happiness

The beginning of the year always gets me thinking. Moving in feels like a fresh start: new room, new schedule, and new me. Similar to most students at Boston College, I start the new year planning to improve from the last. I write “Student Activities Fair” in bold letters in my planner, introduce myself to my professors, and keep the workout class schedule at the Plex open on my desktop for weeks. That’s what you do, right? In order to be that perfect college student, you have to cover all your bases. Or so we’ve been led to believe.

Amid all this planning, I find that the first few weeks of class leave me in a blind panic over the unwelcome reminder that I have no ideas for a major, no plans for the future, and no time to figure it all out. Yet somehow, I’m also too busy and excited by the prospect of another year in this beautiful city with my best friends that I forget to be afraid. With every new beginning comes a careful blend of excitement for the future and fear that I’ll miss out on my own epic story because I’m too busy figuring myself out.

This is my first time writing for The Heights, and while I have no shortage of opinions concerning life at BC this week (seriously, what is with this heat?), I want to start off the year saying something I think we all know but don’t hear enough: you only have to live for you, because this is your story.

For freshmen, this is your preface. You get to be introduced to the characters that will make up your life at BC, get to know your new setting—yes, BC is more than just Gasson!—and begin to set the tone of your life for the next four years.

For seniors, you’ve reached your final chapter. Make it a great one.

For my fellow sophomores and juniors, you’re in the tumultuous thick of the plot. It’s your chance to delve into your own character development, flesh out the stories of the people around you, experience conflicts, and maybe even find love.

When everyone started arriving back on campus last week, I immediately noticed a prevailing theme among my friends and myself: It’s time to step it up. We no longer have the perfect “well, I’m only a freshman!” excuse. Times are changing, and every day the people around me and I are panicking about something new: “Should I minor in film studies because I love it, or marketing because it looks good on a resume? Can I balance a PULSE placement and a part-time job? What clubs do employers want to see I was a part of?”

Four months ago, we were celebrating in an Uber because we had scored the holy grail of sophomore housing: a corner room eight-man in 90. Could it get any better? And now that we’re here—drinking coffee in the morning, doing homework in the common room at night, enjoying our own bathroom—it’s been a dream. But it’s also given me a front-row seat to the struggle of moving on from freshman year. Deciding between what we will enjoy now and what will pay off in the long run is a balancing act, and something’s gotta give.

Stepping it up can take a lot of forms, and there’s by no means a “perfect” college experience. Making the most of your year doesn’t have to mean getting a job and maintaining straight As and changing your whole life to fit the idea of the Renaissance student. If those things will truly make you happy and make the $73,000 a year you spend to attend this university worth it, then by all means do them! But sometimes, making the most of an experience just means making yourself happy one day at a time. Remember to take a step back, absorb life, and pay attention to the things that you love. Your best life probably lies within them. Listen to all the “Hamilton” you want. Go see every movie that comes out this year that you find even a little interesting. Grab some chips and guac from El Pelon and lay out on the grass with your friends late into the night. Walk under the towering spires of Gasson in the fall and take in the beauty of it, even if your 12:00 econ class is housed within its walls.

This year, try not to write off your own enjoyment in favor of crafting the perfect resume. So, to everyone like me who feels the pressure to make their experience at BC as picture-perfect as possible, take a deep breath and ask yourself: what will make me happy today?

Featured Graphic by Anna Tierney / Graphics Editor