The Freedom to Choose

My biggest (and strangest) realization while at Whitman: during college you get to fill up your days however you want. You don’t have a nine to five job, children to drop off and pick up from school, and a strict schedule that repeats itself day after day after day. Don’t get me wrong, you still have classes to go to, meetings to attend, and sports practices that you really can’t miss. But for the most part all of these decisions are your own. That’s why I think college, and especially Whitman, is so unique. You have the freedom and independence to structure your life how you choose. Every semester at Whitman is different for this very reason: you take different classes, you have different leadership positions and jobs, you play different sports, you live in different places, and you are a part of different networks. But all those are choices you get to make.

I learned a harsh lesson at the beginning of this year: I just can’t do everything. You would think that as a senior entering my final year of college I would have already learned my lesson, but nope. I filled up my plate with as many activities I could get my hands on and a month into school, after countless breakdowns, tearful conversations with my parents, concerned comments from my roommates, and too many nights of sleeping for less than six hours, I decided enough was enough. I cut back, rearranged my life, and I’ve happily chosen the few activities that really matter. I have the freedom to fill up my schedule until there is a not a free moment during my week. I have the freedom to plan trips on the weekends with friends to go backpacking or to a local brewery. I have the freedom to take two, three, four, or five classes because even though I’ve fulfilled all my requirements, I just can’t say no to taking a class from Professor Hashimoto. I have the freedom to play intramural mini golf or ultimate Frisbee or softball or all of the above. I have learned to prioritize the activities and commitments that I feel most strongly about and through this process I’ve realized what makes me passionate, excited, motivated, and ready for the next thing. You can’t do everything during college, but what you do is up to you. I know eventually I will probably have a job where I have to go to work and return at a certain time every day, where my weeks are structured and repetitive, but for now I’m enjoying living my life day to day and not having fifty-two week commitment with just two weeks of vacation a year.

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