On my last LDOC—my LLDOC—I made the decision to not glance down at my watch at any point during the day. Instead of planning, I only wanted to enjoy my friends’ company and to bask in being a Duke student for one of the last times. Our LDOC did not live up to the day’s hype: We missed all of the performers and didn’t go to Shooters. But we did end up staying up until 3 a.m., ordering pizza and talking. It was the best LDOC I’ve ever had.
I’ve worn a watch practically ever since I can remember, though the brands and styles have changed. Something tells me that the Pocahontas watch that I loved so dearly when I was six years old wouldn’t be the best thing to wear to a job interview—or ever again. Before coming to Duke, wearing a watch was appealing to me for aesthetic reasons. But more than that, I liked the security of always knowing what time it was. As an overachiever and micromanager, I wanted to be able to ensure that I was never late to anything.
In my usual fashion, I started out my Duke career as an early bird. As one of the 547 early admits to the class of 2013, I was overeager to make my way across the country, from rural Northern California to North Carolina. I came to Duke with lofty goals, and I detailed in my mind how things would play out. I would excel academically, have a six-figure job waiting for me upon graduation and make friends who would be with me forever.
But somehow in the turbulence of my four years here, Duke has changed me from someone who planned every detail and was always on time into quite the opposite. I still put my watch on every morning, but somehow I am no longer timely. Instead, I procrastinate like crazy. It started with putting off writing a paper or delaying when I would start studying for an exam. But this year, I’ve procrastinated on thinking about and accepting how different my life will be once I graduate from Duke. Now, I’m almost 22, and I can no longer put off accepting the fact that college—and all the hand-holding that comes with it—is spiraling to a close.
After four years here, many of my original goals for how this place will change me have been fulfilled. I have two of the best friends I could possibly ask for. We met freshman year, and through our time at Duke they have been the people who have played the most significant role in molding me into the person I am and the person I want to be. I have been so profoundly lucky in that sense. But if I could turn back the dial on my watch to give my freshman self some advice, I would. What I would say would be centered on time—and timing.
There’s something to be said for allowing yourself to not care so much about what the clock says—something I learned at Duke, through procrastinating. I would have thought that by this time senior year, I would have a clear idea of what I would be doing next year. The fact that I’m so late in this regard is terrifying. But I also feel as though all the time I’ve spent being uncertain has allowed me to mull things over thoroughly, and to delineate the kind of person I do and do not want to be.
So take your time to wander, but don’t be afraid to leap when you know in your heart that it’s time. I think I first started procrastinating simply because I got tired of always being so busy, and I wanted to allow myself reprieve. Having three papers and an exam on the horizon is a great excuse for putting off telling someone how much you love them. It’s a great way to not question whether your classes, extracurriculars and even social life are putting you on a path that will lead to happiness, and not just to a padded wallet and prestige.
The other day, one of the most important people in my life asked me if I have any regrets about my four years at Duke. Of course, there are things I would do differently. But truth be told, I can’t classify any of the billion mistakes I’ve made here as regrets. The fact is, I can’t turn back the clock, and I don’t really want to.
I’ll continue to put on my watch every morning and manage my day in blocks that are easily organized on Google Calendar. But Duke has also taught me that not everything can be planned. It’s important to follow what you feel, to allow yourself to stray from the beaten path. And for that lesson, I will be forever grateful.
Maggie Spini is a Trinity senior. She is a senior editor and would like to thank everyone on The Chronicle’s staff for making 301 Flowers such a comfortable second home.