[Campus Commentary]In hindsightThe term “in retrospect” possesses a certain aura. The phrase itself implies that the time or event in question is now part of the past, and reminiscing about it has revealed particular insights that could not have been gained earlier. Maybe it’s because of this “after-all-is-said-and-done” quality that we tend to take our retrospective broodings more seriously, which sometimes leads to regret and changes in the way we live our lives.
It’s been about 10 months since I took my final college course, and about eight since I received my diploma. I was thrilled, to say the least, that I was finally done ― a true adult, completely free to make my own decisions about how I want to shape my future. No more early morning classes, no more high-pressure exam seasons, no more sucking up to professors and upperclassmen. How little I knew that work would have me getting up even earlier, be under constant pressure; and that society outside university required even more brown-nosing, to an unimaginably diverse pool of people. I suppose this was when my ignorant brain began to wander and reminisce about the good ol’ days of college.
In retrospect, I wish I had been less lazy. Although I don’t consider myself excessively lazy, there were days when I skipped morning classes to sleep in, or chose to stay in and keep my remote control company instead of going to a party. Whether for a class to stimulate my mind or a party to build memories with friends, were I now given the same choices I would never, ever choose to stay home.
In retrospect, I wish I had been more adventurous. I realize now that while age should never hold someone back from trying something new, college kids are allowed a certain recklessness, making it easier to get away with crazy behavior.
I don’t think there was ever a time when I truly embraced this notion and took full advantage.
That English play that I so desired to audition for but was unable to muster enough courage to do so, is looking awfully good right now.
In retrospect, I wish I had read more. No, I wish I had read a lot more. It’s funny how I prided myself in actually enjoying reading and being able to say that I had read most of the major classics. This pride, instead of giving a healthy sense of achievement and motivating me to continue reading, actually held me back from realizing at the time that there were so many wonderful books in this world that I had not even heard of. I truly do believe that I would be a much more intelligent and well-rounded person had I read more books in my college years.
There are many things I wish I had done, in retrospect. What can transform this wishful thinking into tangible results, I realize, will be my own efforts. I guess this is why retrospective thinking can yield such powerful returns.
Combined with an honest and diligent effort, thinking about the past can do wonders for the future.
*The writer is a former editor of the SNU Quill news magazine at Seoul National University.
by Yoo Kyung-ha