April 9, 2013

Big Red Ambition: Just Do It

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I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood after reading two pieces (Bhowmick’s and Morris’s) in the Opinion section this week, so I’m going to do this blog differently than I have in the past. I’m not going to tell you a story about that time I complained about my writing seminar to no one in particular (#130). I suppose this is a bit more about how actually trying to check off as many items on the Big Red Ambition list made my college experience so much better.

Let me start off by saying that I haven’t checked off every item and I don’t plan to do so. First of all, no one has time for that, but moreover, this list isn’t about perfection — it’s about enjoying yourself. I remember I was talking to my cousin (Sheryl Gordon ’07) about this blog and she asked me how I manage to have time to do all of these things. I thought about it for a little because, let’s be real, we Cornell students are some of the busiest people ever (I can go like a full week without seeing some of my roommates just because of conflicting schedules). We have prelims to study for, clubs to run, teams to practice with and more. But college is four years that we can never get back (or seven years if you are John Belushi’s character in Animal House), and it should be about more than commitments — everyone needs a little fun now and then, and that is what the 161 List is about, and that is why I have kept writing this blog.

My deadline for this blog forced me to rally my troops on a regular basis and go have fun (so I’d have what to write about). Last year we went to the Pines (#99) on a whim to attempt to complete the Pines challenge. On that same day, I climbed all 161 steps to the top of McGraw Tower (#161) with a friend because it was so nice. We’ve decided to take an hour away from studying to go throw flaming pumpkins into the gorge (#75). We’ve played trivia and karaoke-ed at Rulloffs (#80, #81), Group Therapy-ed at Dunbars (#83) and we have gone to Wegmans on BOTH Friday and Saturday nights (#62). As my roommate, A, just pointed out, I was forced to stop making excuses, and to just do things that I may not have done otherwise.

So all you freshman, don’t lose that enthusiasm and desire to experience everything all at once. I know that right now it must feel like your senior year is SO far away, but, unfortunately, it’s a lot closer than it seems. Enjoy the rest of this year where no one really expects too much from you, and don’t take any minute of it for granted — I would kill to be in your shoes right now. Print out the 161 list, and see how many you’ve checked off. If the list does nothing more than convince you to go to an A Capella concert just so you can check off another item, then it has done its job.

Sophomores, I know sophomore year can be hard. Classes are more difficult, and obligations seem to just be piling up, but take a minute to enjoy everything around you. Get out of the library and sit on the slope for a few hours, or just go to the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning instead of spending the day indoors doing work. Spend lots of quality time with your friends — I speak from experience when I say that it takes some adjustment time to get used to being at Cornell when some of your best friends are abroad, so enjoy the time when you’re all together. Take a minute to enjoy yourself and to enjoy your friends — you’ll be thankful for it later on.

Juniors — I remember last year writing the words “I am so happy to not be a senior right now” in one of my blogs. I felt all smug about the fact that I had oh so much more time left, but senior year flies. So please relish the fact that you guys have one more year here — it’ll be the best year. But don’t let that time make you complacent; go out and drink Sangria at CTB, have an impromptu lawn wine tour, have a picnic in the Cornell plantations. Do stuff. Seriously.

And seniors, it’s time to live it up. In just a couple of months we’ll have graduated. We’re going to have a continent separating us from some of our best friends (my closest friends are moving to Seattle, Detroit, DC, New York, Boston and more…eek), we’ll have real-person jobs (or be in grad school) and we actually may miss those times we waited in line for half an hour for a salad at Terrace (#58). Now is the time to make memories (though some of them may be hazy the next morning) and listen to Kinetics & One Love’s Graduation. We need to enjoy ourselves before we’re forced to figure out how to cope in the scary grown-up world. So let’s act like complete idiots in the last few weeks before we have to become responsible adults.

Whether you’re a freshman, a senior or anything in between, take the time to look at the 161 list. Go find the brain collection in Uris Hall (#66) or go see the library’s Rare Book Collection (#64). Do the things that you can only do at Cornell, because at some point, we’re all going to leave East Hill and no one should do that before selling back your books and using the money to buy alcohol (#97) … that would be a tragedy of epic proportion.

Original Author: Jaime Freilich