I, like many a Boston college student, hail from the suburbs of New York. So close that I hold an undying and arguably undeserved claim to the city. So close that when asked by anyone out of the tri-state area where I am from, I simply say New York hoping they assume the city. In reality, I am 30 miles and a 37-minute train ride from Grand Central – if you catch the express, that is. But this does not deter me from claiming New York as a part of my home, my identity. I take pride in associating with the city that is often considered to be the center of the world.
But on a recent trip to California, I became aware of an engrained New York trait that I am not proud of – my expectation that all people move at the same rushed pace as me.
My epiphany came at a deli in Malibu. After placing our order of two pesto chicken sandwiches and a pear salad, we promptly moved towards the side counter, expecting out meals to be out momentarily. The men behind the counter worked at a relaxed but deliberate pace, greeting the regulars as they queued towards the end of the line, joking with one another in a carefree manner. Five minutes went by and I began to fidget, ten minutes and I began to look over the counter with an impatient look. Had the family before me received their sandwiches yet? I hadn’t thought so.
And then I looked beyond myself. There were countless other people who had ordered before and after me, but they were dispersed around the deli and patio, chatting carelessly. In fact, the speed at which their sandwiches were made seemed to be the last thing on their mind. It was at that moment that my Mom looked around, smiled guiltily and said, “You can tell we’re the New Yorkers.” It was the first time being called a New Yorker sounded like an insult.
And sadly, this warped pace not only afflicts those from New York. It can often be found on the Boston College campus – impatient students waiting at the printer, complaints about lines at Lower, rushing from class to the Plex so that you can make your favorite spin class. What are we rushing for? What are we so worried to miss out on?
Nothing – that’s the problem, we rush for nothing. We rush towards nothing. And ultimately, it prevents us from enjoying the minutiae of the day. And what I hate the most is that I will judge others who do not walk at the same absurd pace as I do, like the workers at the deli.
So as the busyness of school begins again let’s make a concerted effort to change our pace, to slow down, if even slightly. It can be as simple as taking a second to recognize the beauty of Gasson Tower or stopping to talk to someone about their day. Because if we don’t start now, we risk rushing through some of the greatest years of our life.