Lately, I’ve been having some trouble being present. I don’t know when exactly my mind stopped honing in on the “now” the way it did over the summer and shape-shifted into one that is always thinking about the next thing on my to-do list: who I’ll be meeting for a meal (when sometimes I’d rather just grab Hodge and sit in my room), what exam I need to study for or which paper I need to write. I’m upset that I’ve had to think about scheduling in the things that undeniably make me a happier person.
After a full year here, I’ve learned that this is just a part of college, albeit one that doesn’t typically manifest itself in the narrative we tell our friends back home. I get it. During midterms, it’s not a bad thing for that sense of excitement that we have about the beginning of the year to fade — everyone is stressed. But I can’t escape the number one thing that is driving my frustration and distraction up the wall: my phone.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve become so reliant on technology, but that’s been said time and time again. Frankly, there are a lot of advancements to be thankful for. However, I’m not thrilled about cell phones interfering with my learning experience, which is the main reason why we’re all here. Something I have really admired in my experience at Tufts is that the smaller discussion-based classes do not allow any technology, forcing the students to be present and to engage with the material (many of the larger lectures also do this — kudos to professors Sommers and Shin in PSY-0001 for creating an environment that is conducive to learning a lot of material in such a large lecture hall without much distraction). This is good: Studies have indicated that students who take notes longhand perform better on conceptual exam questions than those who take their notes on a laptop.
Most of the time, it works. However, sometimes we have to check our devices. You’ll see 50 messages from your group chat, 10 emails about some sale that a store is having, a couple of Instagram DMs and whatever else may appear. Casually we check but then before we know it, it’s been 10 minutes of slyly scrolling or texting back, and we find ourselves completely separated from what preceded the material at hand.
It can feel like every event in our lives is just another stepping stone toward something in the future, and that it’s a bad thing to step back and process the craziness because it takes time away from what we could be doing to move forward. But what are all of our efforts for if we never get to enjoy aspects of the future that we’re working toward? I’m committing to stepping back from the craziness of life for 10 minutes each day to be present. We all have 10 minutes. It’s okay to sit and just be.