I used to spend my summers with my grandparents at their summer home on the outskirts of Kyiv in Ukraine. There, my fondest and most careless memories take place. I spent my days outside with my imagination entertaining me. When I wasn’t cooking up soup out of flowers, or climbing in my apple tree “house”, I was reading, singing or helping my grandma out in the kitchen and/or garden. I realize now this was the only time in my life when I successfully managed to live in the present.
When I was 7 years old, my parents and I moved to the United States. Ever since then, I have been future-minded. Both having higher education degrees and respectable professions, my parents urged me to take advantage of the abundant opportunities in the U.S. I will never forget the day that they took me to visit a beautiful university. I was 9 during my visit and it was then that my desire and drive to pursue higher education developed. After the visit, I worked diligently in school and managed to get the perfect report cards.
While I became a better student, I also started thinking about the future careers I would be interested in pursuing and/or what I would like to study in university. I dabbled with professions that reflected my hobbies, for I knew I wanted to make a career out of something that made me happy. There were many I considered across different ages: chef, architect, publicist, interior designer. By the time I reached high school, I finally decided on pursuing a business degree.
I vividly remember coming into high school and thinking, “I just want to graduate and go to college” and throughout high school I did everything I could to be an ideal applicant. I enrolled in honors and advanced placement courses, was a member of the National Honor Society and played varsity tennis and golf. Although such a degree of commitment and participation on campus made my high school experience enjoyable and memorable, everything always seemed rushed and geared for getting into college.
It wasn’t until perhaps the second half of my senior year that I realized I wanted it all to slow down. I was hit by the realization that life would change drastically after graduation, no longer would I have the comfort of being with my beloved friends and family anymore on a daily basis. I was about to be hit with an immense wave of unfamiliarity and everything would change.
As I entered college I was quick to indulge in the opportunities at Dominican University of California and was also quick to start thinking about graduation. Here I was, repeating the same mistake I had made when I entered high school. Although I am passionate about what I want to do in the future, I find myself rushing once more through a priceless once in a lifetime experience that is college.
When I found out about the Miss Marin County pageant last year, I decided it would be fun to participate and to meet new people. Preparing for the pageant was incredible and I am thankful for the skills that I acquired and for the people I met throughout the preparation period. On the morning of the pageant, I feared that the journey had come to an end. I decided to shut down my phone and to be completely present as the pageant ensued. For the first time in 12 years, I lived in the present and was not concerned about the future, I just had fun and enjoyed taking part in the competition. To my surprise, I was crowned as Miss Marin County 2018 and the moment was surreal. For once, time slowed down and I was overwhelmed by the excitement and spontaneity of the moment.
My favorite part about starting a new year is the concept of creating resolutions. One of mine is to live in the present more and to focus on the now. With a busy schedule, I often think about what I need to do next, whether it’s in the next minute, hour, day or just the week –I am always forward thinking.
I do see it as a blessing that I have my mind set on the future for this has allowed me to decide what I want in my professional life and to plan the necessary steps to get there. Although it is necessary to think ahead, it is crucial to live in the present and to maximize every moment that life gifts us with.
As I continue my college career, my reign as Miss Marin County 2018 and begin the journey to Miss California, I will continuously remind myself to live in the present moment and I encourage you all to make the same habit. As my father always tells me, “there is no better time than now” so let us make the most of it.