My mom always thought I was weird for loving “Alice in Wonderland” so much. She preferred “The Wizard of Oz.” But I loved that the story was full of inspiration and metaphors. One of my favorites is when Alice asks the White Rabbit, “How long is forever?”
“Sometimes, just one second,” he said.
I know, time is relative in Wonderland, so he’s probably being literal about that, but I think it’s true in the real world as well. Sometimes forever can be found in just one second.
It’s like in the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” There’s a scene where the main character and his two friends drive a truck through a tunnel with the radio blasting. One of them stands up in the truck bed, and you can see the wind filling the space around her. The main character does a voiceover and says that, in that moment, they felt infinite.
Right now, academics dominate our lives. We’re constantly thinking about what internship we could possibly land for the summer or how low we can score on that last test and keep a B. This stress can consume our lives and make us feel stuck in this moment, unable to see where we’re going. I think my roommate Hollee said it better than I could. She said, “Time flies by when you’re having fun, but when you’re stressed, every moment feels like a lifetime.”
Hollee and I have made a tradition of going to Little Rock the Saturday before dead week in order to let go of some of this stress. We call it the Idealist Trip™ because our Myers Briggs personality types are INFP and INFJ, both of which fall into the idealist category. We hit up all the essential places: the River Market for bubble tea and that three-story book store, the mall, Kimchi’s restaurant and Target.
That day allows us to step outside the stress and remind ourselves that, though we might feel like the stress will last forever, it will later feel like just another moment in our lives. Even though it’s only a day trip to a town I grew up near, it serves as a way to remind us that there’s more to our lives than this. Wandering around Little Rock, snapping pics of my best friend power posing on top of a stone bench by the river — it’s exactly what we need to feel infinite, even for just a moment.
School has never been easy for me. I, like many others, grew up with an older sibling that set high standards in terms of grades. I don’t think I ever really matched up to her in that regard, but when I look back at middle and high school, I don’t remember what my grades were. I remember sitting on the sidewalk with her at lunch and talking about the boy she had a crush on. I remember spending afternoons at the library, exchanging book recommendations with her. It didn’t matter if I made an A in AP Literature, which I didn’t. What’s important is that I made it through the class, which I did.
I’ve written a total of 20 columns this past academic year. I started each before this one with the idea that this time in our lives is important because it will determine our future. Now, I’ve learned that it’s also important because this is the time for us to make memories that we’ll one day look back on.
At the end of my very first column of the year, I challenged anyone who read it to take chances and push themselves in order to grow. I said this is your chance. To conclude my final column of the year, I’d like to challenge you to continue this process. But I’d like to add to it a reminder for both of us to take the time to make memories that will make us feel infinite.
And I’ll end this one the same as how we started, by reminding you that you are capable. No matter where you go from here, I know you can make it. And when you’re not sure about that, remember two things. First, sometimes forever can be just one moment, whether it’s good or bad. The stress won’t last. And second, as Christopher Robin said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”