Widgets Magazine


Looking Up: The Last [Little] Note

This is my last column. Four months ago, I was frantically e-mailing my editors my columnist application. Two years ago, I was telling people how I wanted to write a column, but was still scoping out the perfect topic. Now I’m on the other side of all that. It’s incredible. (Well, at least for me, because there are few things in life I contemplate lightly. Read on—you’ll see.)

Throughout this Daily volume, an interesting thought has been flourishing in my noggin. Prior to my first column, I was very concerned about how new topics would arise. It had occurred to me that life-changing Earth-quaking events (great writing inspiration) don’t start and end neatly before 4 p.m. deadlines. And I still assume that’s true. But, somehow, I have always had something major to share each week, something really important to me. Particularly as my junior year has progressed (or basically half-disappeared while I wasn’t looking), I’ve been realizing from where my biggest lessons truly come and how I’ve been able to write about a new aspect of my life here as each Wednesday approaches. I never needed exotic countries or dramatic catastrophes or prize-winning accomplishments every seven days. What I needed was what I’ve always had, which is a world of people around me that have unknowingly revealed countless truths and realities, to me and about me. Our whole lives are like this. It’s dawning on me now.

Sometimes I think that we inadvertently play our lives like a waiting game. We start seeing our current actions as investments, or intermediate steps to a destination. Especially at Stanford, we’re all quietly aware of the pressure to achieve an amazing feat quite soon, so we prepare ourselves nonstop while we’re here. I’ve been falling victim to that mentality recently via Stanford’s trademark obsession for the big summer internship. I was suffocating beneath the mission to find that one amazing internship that will best take me straight to the killer post-grad career I haven’t chosen yet. For a brief, mindless period in my head, my summer was only as worthwhile as how well it would serve me afterward. Isn’t that the strangest chronology? Since when is value only future tense? It’s about time I remembered that my greatest experiences are happening right now, literally, constantly…

The proof is this column. For the past 13 weeks, I’ve been writing about realizations that have been utterly valuable to me and questions that would make me feel selfish if I didn’t pose them to others. But nobody on the outside has seen me transform 13 times. Maybe they’ve seen a student hanging out with friends, chatting on the phone, meeting someone. Those are the real settings of my biggest revelations. It’s misleadingly nondescript. What’s that one cliché, though? “Big things come in small packages?” I’m telling you, it’s true. I discover so much more about this world to be in awe about just by hanging a weekly “what’s up?” question over my head—just in conversations about the day and our lives. I’ve grown more suspect of the word “ordinary” considering how many of those “ordinary” situations have left me thoughtfully, speechlessly surprised. And then, you know, I wrote about them to you.

It now seems ridiculous to wait for that “growth experience” to happen—later. That phrase is always attached to the future-thing-you’ve-got-to-apply-for or whatever. No, this doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly ignoring my GPA or the CDC website or my resume, because yes, I do believe that our best-version future usually requires big work beforehand. We have the privilege of going to a school that unlocks a zillion opportunities (and also the privilege to complain about them). But in all of these present moments that appear usual or useful-for-later, I’ve found myself growing, realizing and understanding in completely unexpected ways. Today I’m going to overhear something interesting or meet someone “weird” or get really annoyed by an opinion and, at the end, have the choice to sum it all up to just another forgettable day.

But I can’t help it—I’ll probably choose to see the extraordinary in all of it instead. And that right there is quite possibly one of the greatest, littlest everyday habits I’ve ever picked up. It sounds extreme, but I’m serious. Dare I say it? I believe it’s changing my life.

Nina wishes you a final column farewell, but this needn’t be the end! You can find her at ninamc@stanford.edu. She promises to get back to you.

  • Lisa

    Wow, wonderful and refreshing, Lisa =D

  • Lisa

    How refreshing, wonderful, Lisa =D