The thing that scares me the most is the passing of time. More specifically, the idea of lost time. In my final year of university, it feels a bit like time is running away from me. Maybe more so that I am running towards a new phase of my life, and I really don’t want to. Speaking to the people around me, it seems like most in my position feel the same. While we race towards this finish line, there is also the fear that I’m missing the moment. This is the moment to live in, this is the time to absorb every single thing.
The passing of time is something that you can’t change. In my life, the piece of the anxiety that I’m working on tackling is the feeling of missing the moments. But your entire life is an important moment, not to be missed. How you’ve gotten to where you are, the morning walk to get coffee, the sunny Sunday afternoon you spend working on your favourite class—it can all be special. I sometimes catch myself smiling on my way to my research lab, or walking around campus, purely because I let myself take a moment to notice how beautiful the small things are. Frankly, in my more recent time in therapy I have spent a lot of my energy trying to find a way to have more of these moments. I like to think of it as the art of “Noticing”.
Noticing is not looking around and noting the colour of leaves on the trees, or the people around you. For me, Noticing is taking a deep breath and spending a couple minutes really taking account of where I am in my day and all the things that got me there. I usually do this on a walk, and I think about where I’m on my way to, how grateful I am to be able to be at school doing things I’m truly passionate about, and sometimes I think about all the things I’m stressed about. Naming my anxiety and pairing it with all of the positive things I feel helps to put everything into perspective and allows me to really process everything without becoming overwhelmed.
For me, Noticing happens best when I’m on a walk, listening to a podcast, or doing something active and fun. For you, Noticing might be most effective when you are alone, journaling, working out, or in a class. The key is finding a time when you can take a couple minutes to absorb where you are in life right now. I find myself filled with joy when I realize I was able to have a real instance of truly living in the moment; it can change the course of my entire day. Trying to do this once a day, means I can look back on a week and feel like I absorbed each and every second, instead of letting moments pass me by.
It might not totally stop me from fearing the passage of time, but it does remove some of the anxiety that I’m losing that time. Making my own routine for Noticing has made it a muscle that I am strengthening and learning to use. Your own routine for absorbing all the moments in your life might just make your days feel that much more meaningful too – even if you can’t stop time.