I know it is not exactly breaking news to announce that college students are overstressed. We are told time and again that the future is near; that we must be prepared. We eat, drink and sleep resumes, cover letters and applications. If we have not mapped out every hour of each day for the next twenty years, then clearly we are not fit to survive for 20 more years. When all is truly said and done, the phenomenon will not be what we’ve accomplished in college – it will be that we all don’t have ulcers the size of grapefruits by graduation.

“I am currently finishing up my last 12 applications for summer internships, and have completed my preparations for the LSATs. Presently, I am studying for the Bar exam, have chosen a law firm and have already anticipated possible cases my future clients and I may encounter,” announced a sophomore boy hidden somewhere beneath a suit and tie. The girl seated next to him picked her head up from her laptop long enough to reply: “Oh? Well, I have been interning eight days a week at the hospital. I am presently researching the origins of AIDS in Africa and am writing and designing my own MCAT preparation guidebook, which will be on sale nationwide within the month. I also anticipate that I will find the cure for cancer before Senior year.”

So, there we were: the boy, tapping his fingers on his palm pilot; the girl, straightening the collar of her suit jacket; and I, desperately clutching my pencil case. All eyes were on me. Well, let’s just say that you can be sure I rattled off a catalog of future endeavors that knocked the argyle socks right off them. I walked away from the table totally confident that my five-year plan was up to par. Nonetheless, I was suddenly very much aware of my pink mittens.

I guess no one can argue with the fact that the future is inevitable. I completely understand that it only makes sense to work hard and to plan ahead. And, hence, I commend the boy who has already carved out a path to his future, anticipating any and all hazardous roadblocks or potholes. Kudos to the girl who feels her strategy is foolproof and rests above both the possibility of (oh my gosh!) a delay in the plan and the unthinkable – the prospect of a different route altogether. They might receive my polite applause, but I certainly wouldn’t want to hang out with them.

It’s important to be future-oriented when you need to be. It’s just that those who are perpetually gearing up for tomorrow forget to live today. If, by some act of God, a class is canceled – don’t consider it an extra hour to read ahead for your Culture and Politics class. Go outside and play. Who cares what kind of looks you get from your neighbors. You know, their faces could really stick like that.

Every now and then, it only makes sense to put the Wall Street Journal aside and read the back of a cereal box instead. There’s something strangely reassuring in being able to draw an unobstructed path from the rabbit to the bowl of Trix.

I know you can’t live life like a kid day-in and day-out. There are going to be files you don’t want to go over, with people you don’t want to speak to, at meetings you don’t want to attend. When you were little, you would look at the floor nervously, scuffing one shoe with the other. Then, if the situation grew more uncomfortable, you, abounding in kindergarten problem-solving skills, would simply pull your shirt over your head and run screaming into a closet. As an adult, however, you understand this type of behavior is frowned upon. So, you’ll suck it up with a smile and a nod.

Whether you decide it’s best to plot out your every move in life or just let nature play its course, the future is guaranteed to get here. But, as you check off each accomplishment you achieve, remember to always bring along the kid in you, and even let him out once in awhile.

Sure, when the big bucks start rolling in, wine and dine at all the five star restaurants in town. But, every once in awhile, start a food fight.

Drive the company provided Mercedes Benz around town when you are promoted to CEO of a national corporation. But, don’t get rid of your bike.

Graduate from the School of Foreign Service with the highest of honors and work your way up the hierarchy of government officials. But, remember to play fairly, share nicely and ask politely – because that’s how you make friends and, quite frankly, how you avoid war.

So, go ahead and write your resumes and fill out your applications, just don’t stress. Climb your mountains, but then let yourself roll down the hills.

Above all, do whatever it is you want to do, and make as many changes as you want to make. Don’t get discouraged just because you have applied to 14 less internships than your roommates. And, if they look down their noses and scoff at your “feeble attempts,” don’t let the criticisms get to you. You know better. After all, you’re rubber and they’re glue.

Polly Burokas is a sophomore in the College. Focus with Burokas appears every other Friday. The columnist can be reached at burokasthehoya.com.

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