Checklists, bullet points and post-its cover my notes. Maps and pamphlets are sprawled out on the table. Sitting in Barnes and Noble with a yellow notepad in front of me and a stack of travel books to my left, I rapidly write down ideas for my upcoming trip.
Throughout my whole life, I have loved making travel itineraries. Whether it was for a weekend getaway or a long trip, I would sit down for hours to read, take notes and organize details. Even if I wasn’t taking the trip myself, I’d get excited to plan other people’s outings, as it would give me the opportunity to learn more about a place and imagine what the trip would be like.
I’ve always found comfort in organization and structure. When I was in kindergarten, my parents used to send me to school every day with an analog watch so that I could learn how to tell time. Unfortunately for my kindergarten teacher, this meant that five-year-old me was reading out the time every five minutes to remind the class that we needed to keep to our schedule properly.
That same year, my parents enticed me to go to an art museum by handing me a Canon digital camera. With the camera in my hand, I photographed every piece of art in the museum that I saw. Despite how tedious this process was, it helped me learn to truly love and appreciate museums.
As I wrap up my sophomore year of college here at Hopkins, I am starting to feel like there is a looming timeline with things I need to do before the semester ends. Since I am not going to be here over the summer and am planning to study abroad in Spain during the fall, it feels surreal to wrap my head around the concept that when I leave campus in the middle of May, I will probably not be back until January.
I have to come to terms with the fact that the Hopkins I leave may not be the same Hopkins I come back to. Time won’t freeze, things may change and I have to accept that life will continue without me.
Nevertheless, I have to contain ‘my fear of missing out’ and realize that my life can continue outside the confines of Charles Village. Although I’ll be far away from the comfort and structure here on campus, I’ll have the opportunity to gain a new and distinct perspective, which is both scary and exciting.
I need to say goodbye to the structure and organization of my life and make more room for spontaneity and adventure. I’ve spent far too long planning and anticipating every single detail of each day when instead I need to live in the moment.
The future is unpredictable; even last month, when I began counting down the days of the semester and stressing out about how much time I had left, I tested positive for COVID-19 and stayed in isolation for nine days. Those nine days were sad and lonely, and I truly missed being outside and seeing my friends. Yet, it also made me further appreciate the people that are in my life and the friends that make my time here at Hopkins so special.
I like to believe that I am becoming more flexible and spontaneous than my childhood self. Yes, it’s good to be organized, and I definitely will still be making itineraries for my time in Spain, but I’m also excited to keep some things unknown and explore the world around me with a clean set of expectations. And for now I’m excited for what the present has in store.
Gabriel Lesser is a sophomore from Westchester, N.Y. studying Neuroscience and Romance Languages. His column explores his memories along with his current reflections and the lessons that he has learned.