Time, generally speaking, is a funny thing.
It seems to pass too quickly when we’re having fun or slow to a grinding halt when we’re not. It never lasts or passes when it should.
Most of us have experienced both phenomenons separately.
Some of us have experienced them at the same time, service members and college students among them.
I’ve seen both of those things.
Flashback to August 2012, my last month in the Marines.
After nearly nine years of blood, sweat, and scowling — there’s no “tears” in the Marine Corps — my final countdown had begun. Almost a decade had whizzed right past me, but those last 30 days felt like someone had hit the “pause” button hard. I was steadily marking off the days on my calendar like a prisoner waiting to be freed while my bosses continued to dump endless paperwork and menial tasks on me.
When I started classes at USCB in the fall of 2013, I was sure that those days were behind me.
I was wrong.
I learned that time doesn’t follow any rules when you’re in college — no rules at all.
Your professor gives you two full hours to take an exam, but by the time you get to the essay portion of the test, you’ve only got 10 minutes left. That’s when adrenaline kicks in, your brain jumps into hyperdrive, and your pen starts wildly writing whatever nonsense pops into your head.
I have also spent weeks staring at a blank computer screen, cursed with writer’s block instead of finishing that research paper I wanted to get a head start on. I usually end up typing the entire thing the night before it is due.
Now, with midterm exams and paper deadlines fast approaching, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Traditionally during this time of year, many students are ramping up for the inevitable Spring Break vacation or a trip home to see family.
Others look forward to catching up on much needed rest.
Instead, you’ll find me studying, writing, reading, and working longer hours than I normally would. The bills don’t stop coming and neither does my schoolwork.
Not that I’m complaining.
The Marine Corps taught me to love a challenge — even if it’s really, really hard. And nothing beats the sense of accomplishment you experience after completing a grueling test.
I’m keeping that in mind as I once again embrace the challenges presented by this midterm season.
There’s one more thing the Marines taught me. In the most dire situations, whether in training or deployed overseas, always remember that “you can’t stop time.”
In other words, the rough times will eventually come to an end.
Midterms/finals will come and go. Graduation is going to happen this year, with or without me.
So it’s not about time.
It’s really about where will you be when the dust settles.
And, unlike time, I can control that.
Brian Vosicky is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. He is studying psychology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.