Opinion: You Can('t) Have It All

If there was one unifying characteristic of BC students beyond our mutual enrollment at BC, I would venture to say it is the desire to "have it all." It starts before we even get here; we portray ourselves as well-rounded and high-achieving on our applications in an effort to persuade BC that we are the ideal candidate. Overcoming this barrier, the issue of "having it all" perpetuates itself once we arrive, presenting a whole new environment in which we must obtain and achieve everything we can.

What does it mean to "have it all" though? With regard to the BC student, having it all seemingly manifests itself in the form of an excellent GPA, involvement in several clubs ideally with some form of leadership role, an intramural championship mug, job or internship prospects for when the world of BC fades away, an appearance that reflects healthy Plex attendance and a breadth of wardrobe options. In addition, one must have the perfect group of people to enter the housing lottery with, perhaps a budding relationship and a crew to drag you to Late Night at 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday.

While the specifics about what it means to "have it all" for each individual may change, it is obvious that there are common themes. Everyone wants to be successful--socially, academically and otherwise. Too often, "having it all" is viewed in terms of the easy-to-measure aspects of perceived success that we easily validate by checking our grades on Agora, looking into our closet or viewing the amount of favorites received on our latest Instagram post.

If we choose to look at the world with this material checklist of objectives, what do we really not have? After waking up this morning, you presumably used the same amount of water the average African family is able to use per day within three minutes of your shower. Then you spent about $10 on an overpriced breakfast from Lower, more than what 80% of the world lives on or under per day. Not to mention a populous of children over 2x the size of BC's own undergraduate population dies everyday from the effects of poverty (about 21,000). That's about fifteen children since you started reading this.

The point of these statistics is not necessarily to induce guilt, but rather gratitude. As students at a prestigious university, our reality is drastically different than that of a substantial percentage of the globe. By comparing our reality to theirs, it becomes quite clear that in one sense we already do have it all—in the form of opportunity. We have the opportunity to pursue long-term goals unaffected by the uncertainty of where to find sustenance and more important than where to go on a Friday night.

However, I realize that we do not live in the rest of the world's reality, and so essentially saying "be grateful for what you have" is not an effective way to satisfy out desire for "it all." The problems we face daily, while radically different from the rest of the world's, still have a level of merit to them. But, I still think there is a solution to our want to "have it all" that can be unearthed in the perspective of the marginalized reality.

Amanda Ikard / Gavel Media

Amanda Ikard / Gavel Media

It is safe to say for almost everyone at BC that tomorrow is practically a guarantee, while for the population I've been referring to, tomorrow is not. Their reality strips down the emphasis our society places on "having it all" as a future occurrence. For us, to "have it all" is something we are always working towards, leaving us with perpetual dissatisfaction and feeling unfulfilled in the present. For example, we work towards the perfect GPA today with the hope that it leads to the high-earning job come graduation.

The problem with thinking of "having it all" as being fulfilled in the future, though, is that the future is often reliant on factors outside of our control, and may never come. Life only guarantees that we have the present and the existence of a past. We need to keep the future in mind, but to "have it all" cannot be based solely in future fulfillment because it is not a guarantee, only a probability.

To truly "have it all," I believe we do need to keep the future in mind, but must de-emphasize it with an orientation towards achieving for the past. Rather than thinking about how we can "have it all" today in a sense that promises to pay off in our future, we should ponder if we "gave it all" today. If we give all of our effort, time, and energy today towards creating change today, then our past will "have it all"—a guarantee which the future only holds as a potentiality.

While you may not "have it all" in the traditional sense of BC students, you have all the opportunity to achieve something today that can be a source of pride as it moves into the past. Don't negate the probability of the future, but view it as a potential stepping-stone that your present can build off of to leave behind a better past.

Instead of getting caught up in the tedious details of life at BC to "have it all" in the future, live now for the legacy you want to leave behind in the past. The future is not a guarantee; only the past and present moment are. You already "have it all," first in the form of your past as it's all you've ever done, and second in the form of your present and the opportunity to achieve today.

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