Be Present – Literally Every Step of the Way

Adam Benavides is a graduate of New Mexico State University, where he earned a B.A. in English, with an emphasis on Professional Communication. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, he is an avid Green Bay Packers fan and overall Wisconsin enthusiast. Adam also has a passion for film, live music and literature; the highlights of these being writing and directing two one-act plays and seeing his favorite band, Pearl Jam, live in concert 10 times in seven different states. Although you can find him watching movies and exercising during his spare time, he also enjoys reading, skiing, and sailing. He currently lives in Chicago, where he works in in-house PR as a Corporate Communications Specialist.

When I was a senior in college, I was constantly thinking about time. As I both eagerly and nervously waited to graduate, I found myself considering all of the time that had passed and what to do with the little time I had left before graduation. It is easy to pressure yourself from both ways of thinking: “Plan for your future now! Finish your resume and apply to every job posted on Monster and LinkedIn, and while you are at it, apply to every Graduate program in the country, if only for a safety net,” or “Go out with your friends six days a week, blow off that elective exam and relax! It is your last time to be young before you enter the mysterious ‘real world,’ full of responsibility and the unknown.”
So the question is which is the correct way of thinking? Should you prepare for your future OR embrace the present?
The answer? Do both.
Looking back, the one thing I would have done differently in college is not worry so much about my future career or ensuring my current extra-curricular activities communicated the exceptional person I knew I was. Instead, my advice is to try to live in the present and simply, be.
Now, do not get me wrong, it is important to keep the future in mind as what you strive to accomplish during your precious college years absolutely has an impact on your direction afterward. Nonetheless, even with my overly ‘future-conscious self’, I had an extremely fruitful college career that included teaching at a summer camp in New Hampshire and spending my junior year studying abroad in Italy, all coupled with a rewarding and ‘buoyant’ fraternity experience during my three years in the states.
My regret is, during those positive and rewarding experiences that came from being conscious of the future, I should have lived more in the present. I do not mean in the sense of living life to the fullest, but being present – literally every step of the way. In New Hampshire, I should have taken a picture every single day of how the fog rose up over the lake. Every. Single. Morning. In Italy, I should have befriended the elderly bartender below my apartment who recited Dante’s entire Inferno to me in Italian – by memory. At school, I should have went to the optional Friday night lecture on film history and gone to whatever gathering I was worried about a few minutes late.
Graduation is not something to fear and as great as college is, the ‘real world’ is awesome. So rest assured. The word commencement means the end of one thing and the beginning of another. It signifies that you still have more to come!
However, when you look back on that ending era, the things you will think about may surprise you. Yes, you will miss the constant camaraderie of friends and the ability to sleep in way too late, far too often. However, it is the elements exclusive to that point in your life you will miss. Why? In short, you will see all of your college friends again and I admittedly spend the majority of my Sundays sleeping in. You will experience those elements again. Unfortunately, the old men reciting poetry, the fog-filled lakes in the morning and consistent, optional film lectures you might not.
So yes, be cognizant of the future because it does pay off and may lead you to some great experiences and enjoy your friends as much as you possibly can.

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