The following is a reflection from a college student. He concludes that life is more fulfilling when we stop going with the flow and commit to living for a larger purpose.
I recently went on a very refreshing, beautiful hike in the wintry mountains of Washington State (Lake 22). The snow was beautiful, the lake pristine, and the cold winds kept me alert and sharp. A group of four of us were taking this time in God’s creation to reflect, set new goals, and make a determination for ourselves. During the semester, classes went by like a blur, and I didn’t really take any time to seriously sit down, evaluate myself, or focus on my long-term goals. I was mostly just focused on getting through classes and going with the flow of the academic calendar. Spending time outside in nature helped me to really bring my life into perspective and to focus on the long-term goals I have for myself and my life of faith.
We took about 30 minutes for time alone, to pray, reflect, and freely write down our thoughts. Sometimes my mind is scattered and I’m not really able to focus or reflect deeply, but I was able to get into a reflective mood and attitude. Looking back on it now, I think I was already preparing myself the whole way there by intentionally thinking about the past year, online classes, family, and the direction of my life. On the car ride to the hiking spot, I was reflecting on where I was at right now, and where I wanted to be. We hiked all the way up to a beautiful lake clearing and saw a beautiful view of the clear water and snowy peaks.
Here is a little excerpt from what I typed into my phone that day:
“I kind of feel like I’m just floating around in the water, dazed in a fog, not actively taking agency in my life, my decisions for what to commit myself to, and where I’m going. I’m letting myself be carried by my environment, the waves around me moving slowly as I just get older and older. Kind of like I’m on autopilot mode, without actively thinking about my everyday decisions, lifestyle, attitude, and long-term goals… Stop going with the flow and just reacting to my environment. I need to take ownership. Stop floating and start swimming”
Though it wasn’t some divine revelation or eureka moment, I felt surer about myself and clearer about what I should do next. The dissatisfaction with my current attitude and growth led to a desire to work harder, push myself more, and strive for bigger goals. I didn’t want to be stuck in the fog and I knew that I could be more motivated, focused, and actively taking control of my life, despite the ever-changing circumstances around me. Sometimes, it felt like there was so little I could do. As the pandemic struck, I was separated from close friends, and my lifestyle changed dramatically. So, it became important to take hold of small victories, small changes, and little steps to take control of my everyday life. I needed to commit myself to something larger than just my own career, happiness, or life. I was complacent, confused, and sluggish. After the hike, I kept thinking about what more I could be doing and I felt really refreshed afterward. I wrote down some goals and determinations for myself to look back on. Since then, I have been inspired to spend more time every so often reflecting.