Becoming a senior feels sort of like watching a petty disagreement between two elderly women erupt into a bar fight. Suddenly you realize: “S#*% just got real.”
If the pressure to get a job or go to grad school wasn’t enough, some masochistic person created a bucket list of unofficial graduation requirements of silly activities for us complete by graduation. This would be no big deal if we didn’t already have a chunk of T-reqs to finish—shout out to seniors who still aren’t done with those (like me).
In an effort to calm the majority of students at Duke who procrastinate on everything except the most recent episode of “How I Met Your Mother” (really, Barney, really?), I have taken on the burdensome responsibility of creating a new bucket list. My bucket list is much easier to complete and probably much less meaningful. Plus, many items on old lists have become outdated: Wearing a tutu to tailgate would be shunned now and Google maps wouldn’t even work down in the tunnels so we would all get horribly lost.
The last item on my bucket list is one of those annoying “what-not-to-do” items that many have already done. The last item is: Don’t make any lists.
This is not an attempt at witty hypocrisy, but if it were it would be a darn good one. This is an attempt to prevent many of you, from freshmen to, well, freshmen, from painting a picture of your entire college career before you have even started to sketch.
I, like many others, had an ideal vision of what I would accomplish in college and wrote down a list of these noble goals. I wanted to travel around the world. I wanted to get through a week without eating Panda. Some goals have been easier to fulfill than others.
And now, looking back at that list, I find myself a bit disappointed at what I haven’t been able to do. I wish more than anything that I could go back to Southgate dorm and try it all over again. But I can’t—mostly because I no longer have card access.
During the break, I was at a holiday party moaning about my lost youth to an elderly woman who looked like she wanted to stick a fork in me. I realized that life isn’t over after college. I don’t need to fulfill that list of college goals to feel like I’ve achieved everything I wanted at Duke. I consoled myself for the things I never got to accomplish. (Even though I didn’t go a week without eating Panda, maybe their food is healthy after all. I am fairly certain they use real oranges to make the orange chicken.) And I decided that in my final months at Duke, I would worry less about finishing this list and more about valuing the things that I had forgotten to write down: spending time with friends and freezing under a tarp as it snows outside.
Realistically, the list of goals you want to fulfill in college often comes before you even figure out who you are, which is something I’m still trying out to figure out after three-and-a-half years and many bottles of wine. It’s okay to walk in here wanting to be a doctor some day. But micromanaging every step to get to that goal in four years will only leave you with poor college memories and an unhealthy relationship with Perkins.
So scrap the list. Enjoy the twists and turns of the journey. No comprehensive list can tell you what will make you an “accomplished” Duke student or when it’s okay to wear a tutu. And four years is not enough time to fulfill any worthwhile dream. If someone comes to you with their “life” plan, tell them to shove it in an uncomfortable place and experience Duke as you want to experience it.
This column will be about the list of things that I have done that were never on my bucket list in college. They are unconventional and personal. My goal is not to add to any existing bucket lists but to prove that some of the best experiences are ultimately unlisted.
But seriously, go watch the last episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”
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Sony Rao is a Trinity senior. Her column runs every other Wednesday. You can follow Sony on Twitter @sonyrao.