As a former Dillardian, catching the bus was more than just a means of transportation — it was a way of life. Since then, the bus has not only become deeply ingrained in my lifestyle, but also irrevocably intertwined with my personality.
Though people love to nitpick, there’s no denying UTS is actually pretty great. The buses themselves are kept clean, the passengers are seldom shady and, most importantly, the drivers have no shame in extending to you a genuinely warm welcome. I mean, whose day wouldn’t be made by an old smile, familiar music and a friendly “good morning?”
There was just something about my daily North Line rides which made the trudge to 8 am French lectures slightly less dreary. Be it the stuffy heat which served as an oasis from the blustery winter mornings or the extra 10 minutes I got to spend cramming for a vocab quiz, my experience was never anything less than pleasurable.
Or at least, there was an illusion of pleasure. I loved the bus because I loved the short-term gratification which came along with it. I was spoiled into thinking the privilege of riding the bus was something I was entitled to. Why muster up the willpower to walk 15 minutes when I could be so graciously carried?
Catching the bus really isn’t about the ride itself — it’s about not wanting to put in the effort of walking. And because of that, it’s also about waiting. It’s fair to approximate spending about the same amount of time waiting for the bus as I spent actually riding it. Though, in theory, buses optimize time, they, in reality, swallow it away. You have no control over which exact moment the bus will show up, so you add a few minutes to your commute to accommodate a time cushion. You flush time down the drain by standing until the bus comes — and if you miss it, then you’ve wasted time and forfeited your chance to get to the place you need to be.
I realized I would invariably wait for the bus at every given opportunity only because I was a lazy first year. It was so much easier to idly wait around than to actually work for things, so I fully embodied the mentality of “good things come to those who wait.” It seemed to work for getting to class, so I assumed it would apply to my schoolwork and social life as well.
And so I waited. I waited for my 30-page readings to spontaneously get done. I waited for the picture-perfect group of friends to fall into my lap. I waited for the morning when I would wake up to find my destined career path striking me across the head, and everything in my life would suddenly click into place.
The truth is, it’s okay to wait around for things from time to time — so long as you’re in control. No matter how dynamic a person you try to be, it’s inevitable you’ll need the occasional wave of mindless relief.
On the other hand, when you’re not in the mindset of getting things done, every opportunity you pass up is a step further into the black hole of inactivity. With no steps taken to ignite your spirits, the only place to go is downward. You continue to fall, question where you went wrong and wonder if there’s any possible means of escape in this seemingly abysmal spiral.
But salvation is indeed possible. And it starts with taking baby steps, rather than hopping on that bus.
Nowadays, after my daily hikes up the mighty Lambeth hill, I’m able to start my morning feeling I’ve accomplished something. Sometimes I watch enviously as the buses pass me in my commute, but I don’t let that discourage me. Because with every step I take, I become increasingly reassured I have the capacity to do even more.
Vega’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.