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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: Time marches on

Zachry
FILE
Zachry

Seventy-six years. That’s the average lifespan in the United States. Life is short, as the saying goes, but just how short is it?

The vast majority of our time is predetermined — school, work and sleep. After the calculations are run, very little of our time is completely within our control. Let’s break down those 76 years, shall we?

We’re going to pretend you’re a freshman, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and feeling like the whole world is your oyster. You’re 18 years old and ready to BTHO your next 58 or so years of life.

The average person sleeps for about one-third of their life. If you get roughly 8 hours of sleep per night, that’s 20 years gone, 38 to go.

Standard undergraduates will spend four years in college, and after you finally graduate, you’ll need to get a job. Assuming you never work overtime — I wish — that’s 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. If you retire at the average age of 67, that’s 10 more years lost. Only 24 years left.

Now we’ve got all the menial tasks. Preparing food and eating, brushing your teeth, scrolling through memes on the toilet, it all takes time. It averages out to 190 minutes per day, not including hair and makeup. Thirteen years left.

And speaking of memes, Gen Z spends about 11 hours per week on their phones, bringing the total down to 12 years.

With all the other undesirable but required things you must do during adult life — grocery shopping, doctors appointments, sitting on the phone with customer service, visiting in-laws — those 12 years are looking pretty thin.

“But —” you may be saying, “— life isn’t all cabbage noodles and colonoscopies. Retirement is when I’ll have time for all that fun stuff I want to do!”

Well, 68% of American retirees suffer from some sort of handicap and require long-term medical attention. Countless others forgot to save during their glory days, or didn’t take care of themselves. That means effectively losing the 12 years of retirement you might have enjoyed.

So there you have it.

Every freshman comes into this university with four years of opportunity. That’s 1,461 days, equivalent to 35,064 hours or 2,103,840 minutes. How are you spending your limited time here?

Are you in student organizations you enjoy, or have your interests stagnated because you won’t bother to go searching for new opportunities? Are you spending time with people who interest and challenge you, or are you stuck in the same high school friend group because you’re too afraid or lazy to branch out?

How much time do you waste on things that don’t matter?

Time marches on inexorably. It’s like leaving unlabeled food in a dorm common area. Once it’s gone, you’re never getting it back. This is how it’s always been, and how it always will be. But there’s hope. We just need to master the delicate art of living.

You spend almost 45 years of your life working. So, find a job you enjoy. You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, I call BS. Everyone has off days — it’s normal. Living is enjoying what you do, but also making allowances for yourself.

Hobbies are what make us unique. As someone wiser than me once said, “The time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.” Pastimes are great fun, and they shape our character and interests. Living is understanding how to balance vocation with avocation.

Aspirations are what drive us. Pursuing your passions, developing into your best self, creating incredible things that only you can create, that’s living. But I get it — motivation is an unpredictable beast. You can make it a little easier using the 3-2-1-Go method.

Think of a goal — anything you want to achieve. Now, think about the next step you need to take in order to reach it. If you’re not feeling it, think baby steps. Count down in your head: 3, 2, 1, go. No matter how you feel, get up and start working towards that goal.

Time is short. When all is said and done, very little of it is truly under our control.

Some days you’ll ace the exam you thought you would fail.

Some days you’ll get stuck behind the Wellborn train when you’re already late.

Some days you gig them, other days they gig you.

Remember your passions, remember your aspirations, remember to keep an eye on the clock. It’s your life. Go live it, and make it the best life you can. You only get one.
Charis Adkins is an English sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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Charis Adkins, Opinion Columnist
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