The First Noel

As in, the first Christmas this blog has ever seen.

Christmas is something that used to be wildly different for me each year. Maybe it was the wonder of childhood, but when I was little, every year would feel like I’d never experienced the day before. Like everyone else, as I grew older, Christmas started to not hold the same sense of wonder anymore, but I’m glad to have had those few years.

But there’s another thing that Christmas did for me. It would always be a day when I, for some reason, tried to look forward to the future and think about what the next Christmas would be like. Although I wouldn’t lie to you and tell you that this had nothing to do with the acquisition of more gifts, I think little me also had a point (unwittingly). Your future is waiting for you to come grab it, and what better day to realize this than on a jolly time like jour de Noel? “Your next Christmas” has a lot of implications. Where you’ll be, what you’ll be doing, who will be with you, how you will spend it, what will be on your mind–you think about all this when you think of that idea. And I do believe that you will live the next year like you want that to happen, and it will come to pass. The brain is powerful, remember?

You and I are given much this Christmas; hopefully you and I will give much as well. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, live and enjoy the day. If you’re Christian, celebrate the birth of our Lord. But if you can spare a moment amidst all this, take a moment to think about your next Christmas–you never know what might come true.

Here’s a Merry Christmas to you.

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The Art of Regret Prevention

These past couple weeks, I’ve had several occasions where I really had to take my mind and sail it out to the future. Pardon the nonsensical metaphor, I mean that I’ve had to think about the future a lot recently. I’m always a little reluctant to do this, because no matter how I try to spin it, the conclusion’s always the same: I’m going to have to work my arse off for the next couple years. For a future that’s never necessarily certain. Not the most encouraging thought.

I had opportunities open to me in high school, ones that are no longer open now. Partly for reasons I can’t control, like getting older, but also because of my own shortcomings. I don’t wish to have to feel that ever again–that I ruined what could have been by my actions (or lack thereof). It’s a nagging feeling, that. There’s no way to prove or disprove it, so the best you can do is to not concern yourself with it anymore. I think either I or time did a pretty good job of getting myself over it this first time, which is why I’m definitely not trying to put myself through another round of it.

Hearing about other high-achieving people doesn’t help when you’re in that state. Like your own cousin getting into Korea’s #1 school as a high school junior, or the kid from the Korean equivalent of 4chan winning a gold in the World Skills Olympics, or everyone around you that got into Columbia or whatever. It doesn’t matter if people say that you were in a different situation than them, that you had hardships. You still know that maybe you could have done something, anything, differently, and any of those people that were mentioned could be you today.

I am still more than grateful to be where I am. Just like in high school, I have opportunities that are open to me right now that will no longer be open in a few years. I’m going to have experiences and develop relationships that otherwise would not have been experienced and developed otherwise.  So I’m going to try and do it right this time–college, without regret. That involves making the most out of the time I have. There’s so much that I always wanted to do in this setting, but only a few years to do them all.  I’ll be doing the whole competitive admissions thing again when I do graduate school, and I’m not sure if I could forgive myself very easily if it doesn’t work out because I didn’t make the best of my opportunities.

What do I want to be like when I get out? With a diploma and a degree, yes. Preferably in about three concentrations. I should be infinitely wiser and more learned and knowledgeable and cultured than I am now. There are several hobbies that I would like to have picked up and be enjoying by then (one of those is writing. Oh wait…). I want a large network of people, both in friends and professionals. I want to have an even firmer drive and motivation for the life after. And I want to be assured that I spent my college years fruitfully.

I would express this as “work hard, play hard”, but even barring the fact that I think that phrase is a little silly, it still doesn’t fully represent what I’m trying to do. I don’t know if I even know what I’m getting myself into yet. The last thing I need is for myself to be worn out by rigor and give up. It’s a given that I won’t be all pumped up all the time. On some days, I’ll become lax and lazy and not want to do stuff. On other nights, I’ll renew my determination, and ask for strength. I’m just going to need to make sure that second option happens more often.

We’ll know what comes out in a few years. I think I’m going to be pretty smug with myself if I do everything I just said. I’m not going let this consume my life, though–balance, balance, balance. Just help me to not drop out, would you?