The Game of Life: Stop at Graduation
Updated: May 13, 2020
Reflecting on My Time at BU
No board game could compare to Hasbro’s “The Game of Life” during my childhood years. My cousin and I would play for hours, round after round and could never get enough. Board games were all about strategy–– even if I had no idea what the word meant at the time. To say I was a sore loser is an understatement.
(If you’re not familiar with board game, you are correct to assume the premise of it is just the way it sounds. You make a series of life choices and each choice brings its rewards or consequences, which is monetized at the end of the game during your “retirement” to decide the winner. Your first choice is to decide if you would like to go to college or go straight towards your career path. Along the way, you get married, get a job and maybe have kids. As you play, you reach various “stop” spaces where you can decide to take a detour to perhaps go to night school, have more kids, or take a risky path, or you can choose to continue on to the main path.)
My strategy for “The Game of Life” was to always take the longest route, because that meant more money to win but ultimately more play time with my cousin. I chose “the scenic routes”. I wanted to milk “The Game of Life” for as long as I could.
The other day my nephew came over to my house, and I wanted to find some games for us to play. I went under my bed and found the dusty bin with my 20+ board games collection. (For an only child, I really loved my two-player board games.) As I reached for the “Connect Four” game, I saw “The Game of Life”.
I chuckled to myself as I remembered the countless rounds filled with cheating and rubbing our victories in each other’s faces, but what I was really laughing at was the irony of it all. I had just completed my undergraduate studies at Boston University that day. I hadn’t seen this board game since my childhood years and now it had made a reappearance on my last day of college–– one of my “stop” spaces.
I wasn’t originally in the class of 2020. My college advisor informed me in early September of last year that I had enough credits to graduate early. Without even second thought, I immediately said “yes”, and they changed my status from junior to senior by the end of that meeting. My advisor knew me so well they followed up the news of an early graduation opportunity with “How does having your own 401k sound?” and, sticking true to my odd nature, I replied, “Honestly…thrilling!” (Little did I know that the thrill was all in my head.)
As I looked at the board game and reminisced the “good ol’ days”, I kept wondering what had changed in me. When I was younger, I would do anything to milk the moments. “Mom, can we stay a little longer? We’re almost done with the round,” as I turned my game piece towards the longer route instead of the shorter one. Now a decade later, I found myself here at the end of my college journey feeling unsettled and conflicted. Did I make the right decision? Why did I rush? What happened to that girl who loved to cherish the simple moments? Is she still there?
Wait…is this a quarter-life crisis people are talking about nowadays? For the past two months, cooped up in my house, I’ve been grappling with these doubts and second thoughts. I’ve been thinking about how much I enjoyed my time at BU and the person I have become during my time there. College brought a newfound thrill for learning within me. It helped me find the thing that gives me that rush. I found a passion for something I didn’t even know existed prior to college. And alongside all of that, I had all the fun in the world. I met the most amazing people who have such incredible stories, wisdom and personalities. I saw so many parts of the world, and parts that I also barely knew existed. My three years were wild and beyond fulfilling. I always found myself on my way to the next project and feeling like I was constantly in two places at once. It was tiring, but it was also exhilarating.
I’m having second thoughts because I know I will miss these experiences. I am going to miss learning something new every day from the best of the best at the College of Communication––my home for the past three years. I’ll miss traveling the world and sharing unforgettable stories with my best friends. I’ll even miss those homesick days where the dining hall’s ice cream and subsequent episodes of crying would be my only desired source of comfort. And I know if I had stayed, I would have only made more of those memories along with new ones.
But I also know that I’m exhausted and excited for the next stage in my life. Over the past three years, I spread myself thin and sometimes even robbed myself of the opportunity to dive deeper into the things I love or would have loved. I’ve always been cautioned of my tendency to do so. My high school English teacher would remind me of the phrase “a mile wide, an inch deep” as he saw the self-induced stress tearing me apart, but I never learned.
Looking back, I wish I read professors’ assigned readings cover-to-cover and carefully annotated each piece like we were taught in high school. I wish I made time in my schedule for more office hours to learn about my professors and their journeys instead of time for a part-time job that only added to my anxiety and stress. I wish I made more time to be there for my friends, to go to their performances or games and to make time to just talk about life while eating mozzarella sticks.
I have to remind myself that these are more than just regrets. They’re lessons and reflections for the future to help move forward. I chose this path for a reason. Maybe I should have savored college more and taken those pauses, but now I am fortunate to take a moment to just breathe. Of course, I won’t ignore the fact this “stop” was involuntary at first amid a pandemic, but my life is at a pause right now and I’m okay with it. I am learning to find peace in uncertainty with the support of others and trying to get out of my head to be there for others.
I’m taking the scenic route in this “game of life” and just enjoying the game. I’m not thinking about winning the game or losing the game. I’m looking at my cousin and appreciating the fact that mommy gave me five more minutes to play.
I haven’t figured it out yet–– what this detour will look like or when I’ll get back on my “main” path––but that’s the fun in it. These moments where you don’t have to make a choice but simply “go with flow” are special and just as crucial to the journey. I can take this moment to do the things I never had the chance to do, to adapt and continue to do the things I loved at BU, to keep learning, to keep in touch with friends, to create something, to spend time with family, to do things for others, to look within me to find that little girl who loved to cherish these moments, and to just enjoy this crazy game called “life”.