Full Buckets, Empty Buckets

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Chaitanya Lall/Staff

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Bucket lists. For many, they’re merely a catalogue of what one hopes to achieve in his or her lifetime: a list with the harsh potential to turn into could haves or should haves or what-ifs, should those items on the list not be attended to. I find, as a first year student at UC Berkeley, that it is increasingly easy to become entirely preoccupied with heavy courses and strenuous extracurriculars and forget to lose myself in the unknown.

My sister and I have been forming bucket lists ever since we were little. Our current iteration includes seeing the northern lights and going bungee jumping and riding elephants in India and dog sledding and even learning how to speak French. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment, we’ve already begun to tackle the list. Last month I faced my fear of heights and went skydiving, finding it to be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding adventures of my life. I have learned that it is so easy to get caught up in the present and get lost in our busy lifestyles. In the process, I find that I often forget to take risks.

My freshman year of high school, the most important aspect of my educational life was grades. From sophomore to senior year, however, I made a conscious decision to take a risk and dedicate some of my time to outside learning. I took my learning beyond the classroom and allowed myself to be open to new ways of thinking in hopes of gaining a holistic education. Now a freshman at Berkeley, I have earned a valuable alternative education by going through my bucket list and successfully exposing myself to different channels of learning. I am so young—and it is easy to think that I have an infinite amount of time to travel, to take risks, to let go of what I am comfortable with and to expose myself to different cultures. In this thought, I forget to take advantage of the moment.

Libby Runte, a UC Berkeley freshman, is a pre-medicine student and member of various activities. She, too, has a bucket list. Yet, when asked how far she is in her bucket list she said that her necessary attendance to courses, extracurriculars and social life has inhibited her ability to go through her bucket list.

“Because of my intense course load, I am always working and keeping up with my studies and find it difficult to pursue my broad range of interests. I hope, however, to one day achieve my number one bucket list dream of visiting Patagonia National Park,” she said.

Berkeley students are constantly gearing towards perfectionism. Yet the anxieties of wanting to accomplish everything in these four years (that are supposedly said to be the “best four years of our life”) seems rather unrealistic. How does one qualify a lifetime of “bucket lists” in four years? How do those experiences serve to anchor us? The potency of time fuels the yearning of a complete college experience, while simultaneously excelling in our studies. The fear that we are running out of time to pursue all our endeavors comes up too often. We go to classes, participate in extracurriculars, hang out with friends, catch up on sleep, and often find little time to cross things off our bucket lists.

Faraz Fatemi, a current UC Berkeley junior in the Haas School of Business, was originally scheduled to graduate in 2016. For the past three years he has dedicated his time to organizations such as Berkeley Consulting and Sigma Chi Fraternity, while also remaining on top of his studies. However, upon reassessing his priorities and the experiences he felt necessary to make him a more well-rounded person prior to entering the workforce, he plans to finish his studies a semester early and take some time to explore one of his biggest passions: travel.

“Beginning in January 2016, I will be backpacking around the world with a small group of friends I met here at Cal,” he said. “Our travels will take us through New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, South Africa, the Mediterranean region, and across Europe. More important than the traveling itself is the exposure to different cultures, lifestyles, and people—a critical component that no undergraduate education on its own can provide.”

Walking out of Doe Library last week, I called my Mom to ask what her plans for the weekend were. She said she had just booked a last minute flight to Washington D.C. with her cousins so that they could spend some “girl time” together. The excitement in her voice and spontaneity of her plans made me realize that life does not wait around for anyone. Rather, it’s up to me to collect experiences and go out of my way to create the life I have always imagined. Of course, with a strenuous course load and various extracurriculars and social life comes a productive—albeit busy—lifestyle. But making time to tackle my passions and expose myself to a well-rounded life is something I know that I will never regret.

So what I ask of you is at least once this summer, take a risk. Cross something off your bucket list. Go swimming with dolphins, kiss a boy on top of the Eiffel Tower, or cook a feast for 25 friends. There will never be a perfect time, so, do it now. Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.