As seniors, we hear a lot about the “bucket list:” The SciLi challenge, 5 a.m. Louis, WaterFire, etc. Throughout this year, my friends and I kept putting various parts of the list off until later. But then, all of a sudden, it was May and I started to feel anxious about not having enough time to complete the list in my limited days left on the Hill.
At first, the realization caused an uneasy feeling—something reminiscent of the FOMO (fear of missing out) you feel during your first semester freshman year when you’re sick or busy and you miss a frat party that all your friends are talking about the next morning in the Ratty. I never went to Sex Power God. I never snuck onto the roof of any Brown buildings. I never took Mande. Does that mean I haven’t made the most of my college years? As an eager freshman, I told myself I would do all these random “must do before you graduate” things one day.
This quarter-life crisis caused me to wonder what it really means to make the most of your college experience. Obviously, this answer is going to be different for each person. But, I do know that it actually doesn’t have anything to do with an arbitrary list of activities.
I walked into the Van Wickle Gates as a 17 year old … literally a child (thank you, NY public school cutoff). I had so many ideas of things I wanted to do. I wanted to be on UCS. I wanted to be a tour guide on campus. I wanted to study abroad in Australia.
Like the bucket list I haven’t completed, I didn’t follow through on all of my plans. I quit UCS after about four meetings. I realized that I shouldn’t try walking backwards around campus (for those who know me, you know this is true). And, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, nearly 10,000 miles away from Australia.
I haven’t taken Econ since freshman year, but if I remember correctly, an opportunity cost is a situation in which you need to make a choice given limited resources. Your time at Brown is kind of like an opportunity cost. There’s only so much you can do successfully. So, you have to make choices. The things you don’t have a chance to do end up becoming your regrets. But, as long as you do make choices (even if they end up being bad ones), your regrets just mean that you were busy—you didn’t have time to do everything.
Regrets can make you realize what seriously matters to you. There’s probably a lot I didn’t do in my time at Brown, but there are only a few things that stand out as genuine regrets. I don’t truly regret not taking Mande, but I do wish I took more education policy classes in the Ed department. However, this missed opportunity doesn’t mean I wasted my time at Brown. Rather, recognizing this regret helped inform my decision to attend law school in the Fall.
I want to turn the saying “no regrets” on its head. Embrace your regrets and decide how you’re going to act on them. Figure out a way to do some of the things you didn’t have a chance to do at Brown in the next step of your life. I’m leaving Brown with regrets, but they will influence my future interests and plans.
Lastly, there are some regrets that you are just going to have to laugh about. I regret walking into MSex freshman year thinking it was my first Econ110 section, but there are better ways to spend my time than harping on why I didn’t double check the room number. And who cares if my housemates and I used Tide Laundry Detergent Pods instead of Cascade in our dishwasher for a few months? What’s done is done, and when we look back on the mistake, we’re going to laugh… or be grateful we’re alive and weren’t poisoned.
Going back to the Brown Bucket List, I’ve come to accept that I’m probably walking out of the Gates with a lot of things unchecked. But, your college experience is not defined by crossing items off of a list. There is no one way to make the most of your time here. I’ve definitely had my share of FOMO at Brown, but I’ve realized that if I’m doing something else that I enjoy while missing out on some other random activity, it’s all worth it in the end. The everyday things—like the night my friends and I attempted to cook baked Ziti in the pre-renovated Keeney kitchen or the many days I spent enjoying the sun on the Main Green—are more important to me than any list.