The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

New year, last chances

IT'S NOT the New Year yet, but the next column I write will be in the year 2000. The year 2000 may be the time of apocalyptic predictions, of suggestions of computer failure or terrorist attacks. There are many predictions that certainly will not come true. But for me, one thing is for sure. The year 2000 will be filled with changes.

As a graduating fourth-year student, I have just five months left at the University. I have just five months left before I move on from the life of a college student. Five months until I have to move on from what may be the perfect life.

It's a time that people often reflect on as the best time of their lives. People of my parents' generation said this to me before college, and now they say it during college. I won't be surprised if I start saying to college students after I graduate: "You're lucky. This may be the best time of your life."

In college I spend my time reading great books, and writing papers on topics that excite me. Sometimes I must stay up all night reading and studying, but I can trade that for a whole day of fishing or sitting on the porch. I have none of the restrictions associated with a 9 to 5 job, which really is more of a 9 to 5 lifestyle. Soon I'll be leaving this perfect life.

Perhaps most importantly, I'll be leaving behind a life where I can walk to most of my friends' houses. Instead of seeing these folks every day I'll see them at Homecoming or on the occasional weekend. Soon they won't just be my friends, but my friends from college.

Of course this trend cannot be reversed. We all are set on a continuing path in which every experience is temporary. High school comes to an end, and as you move on, you hope that the good things from high school will stay the same. Some of them do. Some of the friendships remain, but often, good things of the past give way to good things of the present.

There is little point in trying to preserve a life that you have left behind. As college students, we can't try to live our high school lives, and when we are in the workforce, we can't try to live our college lives.

So rather than anticipating the losses that are necessarily going to accompany these future changes, we should just know that they are going to happen, leave it at that, and make the most of the time we have here. Last weekend was my last fraternity Christmas semiformal. Coming up is my last winter break. There are many lasts, but instead of seeing the sadness in them I, and all of us fourth-years, should just appreciate the rest of the time we have left.

We should avoid petty fights with our friends, for we are only going to be with all of them for another five months. We should avoid taking ourselves too seriously. We are just college students trying to make the most of our last semester. Soon we are going to be on a career path, or in law school or medical school. Let's just remember what a great thing we have here now, and not rush to the end of it wasting time on small problems.

It's not that the future will be gloomy, but it is hard to imagine a situation much better than the one we have now. Of course we can expect the future to hold the same mix of good and bad that we have now, but there's something about the freedom of a college student that we may never be able to reproduce.

For those of you who aren't fourth years, you probably will feel this way someday also. Your time at the University will come to an end, and you'll wonder where it has gone. There's no way to stop time, but we can all make sure that we don't get caught up in little things, and miss the big picture. Don't be in a rush to finish, for this is the last time many of us can be as carefree and relaxed as we are now. We can't forget just how lucky we are to be in this situation.

(Peter Brownfeld is a Cavalier Daily columnist.)


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