When Life Gives You… Tangerines?

By Kelyn Struiksma

I kept myself busy over spring break catching up on homework and spending quality time with friends and family, but also made it a priority to take the time to sit, relax and simply, rejuvenate.

Rejuvenation, in my life, is defined by starting the day off right: drinking a cup of coffee (without it needing to be reheated), catching up on the latest news, going on a run, reading the book that has been sitting on my desk half-finished and eating a substantial, yet healthy breakfast. As most of my mornings over the past 10 days thankfully began this way, toward the end of the week, I was not only beginning to feel refreshed, but challenged by the words I was reading in “Cold Tangerines,” written by a favorite author of mine, Shauna Niequist.

“I have always, essentially, been waiting,” writes Niequist. “Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that like I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away.”

These words nearly took my breath away. How often do we as students look forward to the next best thing: spring break, Easter break, summer break, Christmas break, graduation, marriage and dream professions. We spend so much time planning our futures that we hardly accomplish what we actually need to do in order to achieve those dreams.

“And through all that waiting, here I am,” Niequist continues. “My life is passing, day by day, and I am waiting for it to start. I am waiting for that time, that person, that event when my life will finally begin.”

As spring break has come to a close and I am readjusting back into the routine of homework, test, projects and papers, I am reminded of how I don’t want to wait any longer. Why? Because just like Niequist, deep down, I believe that today matters and my life, particularly college, is going by way too fast.

“I don’t want to wait anymore,” writes Niequist. “I choose to believe that here is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold.”

A recent report by Educational Testing Service found that millennials are becoming highly educated but are increasingly becoming less skilled than those who live internationally and fit the same demographic internationally.

The report says: “A decade ago, the skill level of American adults was judged ‘mediocre.’ Now it is below even that. Millennials, who will form the backbone of this nation’s future, are not poised to lift us out of this predicament; in fact, the lack of adequate skills in this population has become a challenge for us to confront.”

Besides the economical, political and social implications this study has, I suggest that you consider it through Niequist’s citrus lens. Bear with me, but maybe millennials are not becoming skilled because we are an expectant generation, waiting for more, waiting for something better to come along without putting in the need effort.

In other words, are we as millennials waiting for our opportunity? Are we looking forward to the next stage in life, rather than being present in the here and now? Are we honestly allowing our experience today to influence and shape our futures in a practical way?

“Your life, right now, today is exploding with energy and power and detail and dimension,” Niequist explains. “You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending.”

As college students, I think it is essential that we actively engage in each day, instead of going through the motions, waiting to do something else, go somewhere else or be someone else. For me, this means returning from spring break running the race, sprinting to the finish line and not allowing another day pass without truly engaging in the classes I am taking, the person I am becoming and the potential I have in being both skilled and educated.

With only seven weeks left in the semester, I leave you with this, you have been given today. Now, what will you do about it?