How to Satisfy the Never Ending Question: What’s Next?

Kasey Corra '22, Co-Assistant Editor-in-Chief

After reading Lucy Stefani’s article (which you should definitely check out, by the way), I was inspired to reflect on the more philosophical relevance of the movie Tangled, specifically the first song. It’s definitely a bop, but there’s also something all too true about waiting for our lives to begin. 

Take yourself back to when we were still at school. How many times did you tell yourself to “just get through the week?” How many times did you hold onto the idea of the weekend, only to get there and look forward to something else? I know now I would give a lot to go back to an ordinary day at school. Even loaded with stress, noise, and too much homework, the school day is a type of structure and bustle that I have learned I desperately need in my life. So why did I dread it? Why did I wait for it to end? 

I think it’s really really hard for us, as humans and girls and teenagers, to realize that sometimes we’re really just living for the future. We idealize what’s to come without genuinely realizing that the life we’re in right now can be just as good. Once we eventually get to the event that we’ve been holding on to, whether it be the summer or the weekend or the end of the school day, we will continue to search for something more — the cycle continues until something stops. And this isn’t always true, either. It’s not unhealthy to look forward to something. I can’t wait to go back to school and see my friends. But right now, in quarantine, I’m not living for that moment. My life doesn’t begin when the coronavirus ends; I’m living right now. And sure, it’s not as great — I can’t go to track practice or school or see my grandmother — but it’s still life.  

I remember a friend of mine (who’s a lot older than me) one time telling me that she felt like she’s just waiting to start her life when she gets a job. She felt herself getting sucked into the cycle always reaching for something more. A lot of athletes do this, too. During my freshman year, I constantly told myself that I needed to hit certain times on the track to be happy. But, in reality, there is always going to be a hunger for more. When I finally run the time I’ve been striving for, there is always going to be the same underlying question: what’s next? I’m not a philosopher or anything, but I really believe that being content with the present will let us see the future clearly without idealizing it. 

But how do we do that? How do we settle with what we have while continuing to be ambitious? How do we satisfy this natural human tendency to reach for the unrealistic? I asked myself that for a long time, and still do sometimes. But I think to answer this question, we have to ask ourselves what is constantly present and important in our life. For me, it’s relationships: relationships with friends, relationships with family, and ultimately, my relationship with God. And I’m definitely not great at honoring these priorities. But I like to think that I’m trying to make the effort to recognize when I’m living for something material so that I can turn to Him instead. 

So back to Tangled. Obviously, Disney movies are very different from real life. Rapunzel doesn’t have relationships with anyone other than her mother, and everything she does is routine and relatively meaningless. And I think the only exception to letting my life start again will be if I find the real Flynn Rider. But until then, I’m striving to satisfy a desperation for the future with a meaningful present. 

Kasey Corra ’22, Co-Assistant Editor-in-Chief