Four years goes faster than you think

By Shelby Ashline

(Shelby Ashline/Assistant News Editor)
(Shelby Ashline/Assistant News Editor)

Whatever point you’re at in life, it’s possible to find a song that so aptly describes your thoughts and feelings that you feel deeply connected to the writer, like they must have stood in your very shoes and seen life through your very eyes. Through the romances and the break ups, the victories and the failures, there’s always a song.

As I approach my graduation, the only song repeating in my head has been Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink.” I remember hearing it for perhaps the first time at my high school graduation ceremony in St. Albans, Vermont. The message is simple: make life count, because “100 years goes faster than you think.”

The past four years have gone faster than I could have ever imagined. When you’re constantly looking toward the next project and the next deadline, it’s hard to enjoy the present.

Thankfully, after my freshman year I got involved in extracurricular activities, which I have derived so much of my happiness from. Through riding horses and competing as part of the University of Massachusetts Western Equestrian Team – bet you didn’t know we had one – and especially by writing for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, I’ve developed groups of friends that I hope will last a very long time.

To be honest, I didn’t have many friends in high school. Many of us remember how terrible it was: the cliques that you never seemed to be a part of, the gossip, rumors and derogatory terms circulating school about you or your friends, the downright bullying. Transitioning to a university that has 22,000 undergraduate students, where it is impossible to know everyone, was the biggest relief.

That’s not to say that bad things don’t happen and hurtful words aren’t thrown around now that we’re in college. But here, it is more possible to surround yourself with a group of people who truly support you, to choose who you want to associate with instead of being thrown into a giant melting pot of teenagers against your will.

I could not have asked for a more supportive group of people than my colleagues at the Collegian. In no other friend group have I ever been able to just completely be myself, without apprehensions or without having to wonder, “What will they think of me if I do that?” At the Collegian, we’re all at least minimally socially awkward, and that’s ok.

The Collegian is where I go to write and edit articles, and to produce the daily newspaper. It’s where I go to do homework. It’s where I go to socialize just because. And it’s where I go to talk through the stresses of the day, even on a Thursday when none of us need to be there.

Now, as my time with them comes to an end, I am left with only one regret: that I didn’t get involved sooner. Working alongside such an amazing group of people has been one of the most rewarding facets of my college career.

My advice then, to underclassmen, is to not hesitate to get involved with something you think you might enjoy. Registered Student Organizations are here for you to take advantage of, so you can have an outlet to have fun outside of the rigorous trials of classwork. You never know who you might meet or how your life will change until you give that extracurricular that interests you a try.

Classwork is undoubtedly important – we came to the University to learn – but make sure you make time to do something for you too. Some of the greatest learning experiences can come from outside the classroom.

And UMass? I couldn’t have picked a better school for me. As a journalism major, I’ve connected with so many amazing faculty and outstanding peers, many of whom I have no doubt are going to do great things in the field. Regardless of the unfortunate level of student debt I’m about to face, I wouldn’t change my decision for the world.

Shelby Ashline is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]