I Just Can't Wait Until It's Over!

by Sebastian Slovin

I recently finished up with my first year of graduate school. During finals week, I had an experience that's really stuck with me. It was a beautiful Tuesday afternoon and I was walking uphill to  campus on my way to class. I was about to deliver a presentation that was going to be a big part of my final grade and I was very much in my head reviewing and repeating my part of the presentation.  Actually, I'd been thinking incessantly about it over the last few days. It was my last class for the semester and I was anxious to be done with it.  My mind kept oscillating between mentally rehearsing the presentation and thinking, I just can’t wait until this is over. Once I’m done with this presentation, I’ll finally be able to relax, enjoy myself, and have fun.

I wasn’t quite aware of my internal dialogue, just a feeling of tension and tightness, until I overheard a conversation between a couple of students walking by. “Oh, my god.” One woman said to the other, “I seriously cannot wait until this final is over.” I looked over at the woman speaking, who looked tense and exhausted. As they passed and the details of their conversation faded into the background, I became aware of my own resonance with her sentiment. Yes, that is exactly how I feel. I cannot wait until this is over!  I thought to myself.  And then a few other students walked by; this time I was intently listening in on their conversation. It was a group of young men. I overhead a part of their conversation and to my surprise it was more of the same: “Ah, why can’t it be Friday already! I need this semester to be over!” I know exactly how you feel, I thought to myself. 

Then, I started to smile.  It occurred to me that's a crazy way to live. I thought about how often I felt that way… I just can’t wait until (fill in the blank) is over because then I’ll finally be able to (fill in the blank). The underlying assumption is that as soon as this event is over we'll finally be free. But how long does that freedom last? How much of our energy is wasted on worrying about the next thing?

What if I got hit by a car on the way to class or struck by lightning? I know that's dramatic, but the point is, I'd just spent the past few days waiting for some future event to be finished in order to start actually living my life. Please do adequately prepare for meetings, exams, presentations, or whatever it happens to be. Realize though, that the only place to truly be alive is in the here and now. Don't wait until (fill in the blank) is over in order to start living. There will always be another (fill in the blank) to worry about. I promise you that. So, the next time you catch yourself saying some version of “I just can’t wait until it’s over”, smile and remember how precious it is to be alive right here, right now.