Everyone needs to be a freshman for life

Meghan Marquardt

I’m a freshman. If I were standing in front of you right now, I’m sure that I wouldn’t even have to say this. I’ve got the clueless facial expression and the overloaded backpack. I overdress. I get to class an hour before it starts. I walk around amazed by everything. I’m pretty sure I may as well wear a sandwich board that says “Freshman: If lost, please return to the dorms.”

Along with my extremely visible freshman-ness, I also brought an enormous amount of fascination to college. When I went to Late Night at the PEIF, I was fascinated by the fact that an event on campus is allowed to feature a comedy routine based entirely on sex. I am enamored  with the idea of waking up when I want to. I am fascinated by the idea of eating when and what I want to. I am enthralled with shopping for myself, paying my own bills (although that one comes with some trepidation). I am captivated by the notion  that I can sleep when I want to, go to class only if I want to –– but, more than anything, I am fascinated by the passion that people have in college. In talking with people here, I have found people who are fascinated by everything from art to zoology. It’s, well, fascinating.

Lately, I’ve been trying to decide whether this endless fascination makes me a total dork, or if it’s one of those things that will help me to truly enjoy life. While the former is undoubtedly true to some degree, I like to think that being fascinated by everything is one facet of the whole “carpe diem” philosophy; that “seizing the day” is not just a process, but a frame of mind as well.

In his article “The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment,” Jay Dixit defines living in the moment: “living in the moment –– also called mindfulness –– is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present.” He says nothing about having to go on an adventure; nothing about having to have an earth-shattering epiphany about your life.

Maybe nerdy freshman do have some wisdom in their ways. Our attention certainly is active. Because everything is a new experience, we are perhaps more engaged than the junior or senior who has “seen it all.”  We may be more open, because we’re likely less sure about what we do and do not like. Is our attention intentional? Probably not. But hey, two out of three in  Dixit’s defintion isn’t bad, right?

This is encouraging because I’ve always struggled with seizing my days. I’m not the adventurous type; actually, I am quite boring in what I do. I’m kind of shy, very self-conscious, and I usually have my head in the clouds, instead of my feet on the ground—not exactly the right formula for living life to the fullest. What I do have, however, is the ability to look at the world around me, to pay attention, to reflect, and to be fascinated byalmost anything. Is that enough?  I’d like to think so.

There are already a million opinions out there on living in the present, but I would like to add my own to the bunch –– become a “freshman for life.”  I think that you don’t necessarily have to go climb a mountain or go skydiving to find ways to enjoy the world that surrounds you. I’m guessing that most people don’t want to go this far to make their lives more meaningful. Perhaps a fascination in the little things will suffice. Perhaps treating every day as a new experience is enough to help you live more fully.

So yes, maybe my effusions of fascination do make me a dork, but hey, there might be some value to them … or perhaps I’m trying way too hard to make myself cool. Either way, I know that I will continue to take joy in the little things I discover as I live and learn here at NMU. It really is a great place to be, and I’m quite excited for the next four years. Now, if only I could learn to get to class at a respectable 15 minutes to half  hour before class starts. Then I’d really have something.