Viewpoint: Building bridges

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Spring is here — along with finals and graduation. The semester is ending. For some, university days are ending. New things lie on the horizon. Life is moving on.

Sequestered in a remote corner of the library, studying for finals, it’s easy to ask, “Why I am doing this? What’s the point?”

During our college careers, we are busily building bridges to our bright futures. But sometimes we can become so anxious to build anything — to get an internship, a job or something to add to a resume — we forget to look ahead and ask ourselves if we really want to end up where our bridge is headed. Sometimes it’s better to pause our building than to build blindly.

As finals end and we move forward, perhaps it’s time we re-evaluate which direction we are building in.

In “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Steven Covey advises people to begin with the end in mind and make each decision with that end in mind. If we don’t, we might not like where we end up. He wrote, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

My husband is what some would call “unique” (Don’t worry, he knows I’m writing this). He asks the question “why” a lot and usually about very random things: “Why do we need a bed? Why can’t we just have a hammock?” “Why do I need a phone?” “Why don’t we go vegan?” “Why do I need shoes — why can’t I just walk barefoot?” I think you get the point.

While often just amusing, my husband’s “experiments” have taught me to constantly question what I’m doing. To not just take the next step because it’s the norm, but because it takes me the direction I want to go.

Sid Savara, a personal development blogger, wrote, “Sometimes we fight, claw and struggle down a path because other people want us to have the rewards at the end, or because the ends sound impressive — but if they don’t have meaning to us, then we will not be satisfied with the accomplishment.”

We don’t have to have all the details of our future hashed out — just the essentials.

A few conferences ago, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “If life and its rushed pace and many stresses have made it difficult for you to feel like rejoicing, then perhaps now is a good time to refocus on what matters most.”

Remember the essentials. Twenty years from now, your grade in Chem 101 or Econ 110 won’t matter — hopefully. But your relationships and experiences will.

One of the biggest regrets of my academic career is that I became so caught up in what I was supposed to do. I don’t mean writing papers or doing homework — those are good “supposed to’s.” Rather, I became so focused on completing my major and minor in the shortest time period, cramming as many classes as I could into each semester, that I often forgot to learn along the way.

Last summer, I had the chance to participate in BYU’s Cambridge Direct Enrollment. I seriously debated going simply because it didn’t “fit” my major. It was then that I realized my focus on taking the right classes was severely impeding my education.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Don’t just live — live deliberately. Time moves forward with or without your consent. Don’t let it pass you by, boldly take charge of it.

As we start on new adventures, forge your own path. Take risks. Pursue dreams. It will be hard. You may re-evaluate and change course. You may wander. You may fail. You may struggle.

But you may accomplish the extraordinary and you will live.

Katie Harmer is the opinion editor for The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents her opinion and not necessarily those of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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