Each morning I wake up, get dressed, walk to Miller St. Residence Hall for breakfast with my friends, then walk to work. As I complete the walk from home to breakfast, then breakfast to work, I like to look around and observe. I admire the buildings, scope out new dinner spots, and generally people-watch.
Through my observations, I have started to notice a trend. No one waits for the ‘Do Not Walk’ sign. Stampedes line up at the very edge of the sidewalk as if they were runners awaiting the starting shot. They scan the streets with eagle eye precision until they can “safely” cross the street.
When I first noticed this, I simply thought that these were perhaps businesswomen and men running late to a morning meeting. But then I noticed the same trend at various times of the day by people in various styles of dress (both business and casual). It would appear that no one has the time to wait an additional 20 seconds to cross the street. Even my own friends seem unable to wait. As a group we are often lined at the edge of the sidewalk, ready to jet across at a moments notice. Rarely when we are strolling around Boston are we in a rush, yet we still cannot wait the additional 20 seconds.
This idea of rushing around at all time made me think about the atmosphere of Duke. Yes, students are often hurrying to classes, parties, or club meetings, but the rushing I’m thinking about is in life. Too often we think of life only in terms of what it will be instead of what it is. As Duke students, we do this all the time. Everyone is constantly talking about future classes they’re taking, internships they’ve had or will have, or how their career will play out in a year-by-year plan. It seems like everything is always in relation to how it will affect the future. So many students at Duke have schedules overflowing with homework and extracurricular organizations. I know quite a few individuals who rarely sleep or allow time to relax with friends.
The mindset on Duke’s campus is very much centered on a “What am I going to do next?” mentality. Everyone knows exactly what clubs and organizations to do to get this job or that internship. Every class is taken with precise knowledge of how it will directly impact the likelihood of entering a specific career or getting into a specific graduate program. I feel like we often forget to enjoy the here and now. We have been blessed to attend a top university with amazing resources and opportunities to explore and grow. During my time in Boston, this has manifested itself over and over. Through alumni mentors and career panels, I see how privileged I am to attend a school that provides me with such resources. Instead of always thinking one step ahead, sometimes it’s good to slow down and look around. Our four years at Duke offer a freedom and independence unlike any we will find later in life due to families, careers, bills, etc. Using the resources we have to prepare for our futures is important, but we also need to appreciate our lives in the current moment. Sometimes, we need to wait for the ‘Do Not Walk’ sign.