The other side of the glass: Embracing opportunities


Alberto Silva Fernandez

Photo by Alberto Silva Fernandez

Julian Herrera, Editor-in-Chief

The opportunities afforded to us, the living, are plentiful but often unrecognized. The bounty of our labor is seldom reaped while we are too young to care or too busy and exhausted to seize, then we become too frail to take advantage of it at all. Sometimes, we are not even aware of the luxuries or pleasures afforded to us because we are enveloped in our own daily toil, much like the coveted seasonal fruit of your neighbors that spoils in bounds year after year. 

While we could focus on the scale at which the youth have become conditioned to never say no to their employers or feel burnout when faced with myriad opportunities because of the pressure to have a vice grip on every door out of fear of being labeled useless, a micro-reading could be that students do not take enough time for recreational and social activities while enrolled in university. 

Despite the hefty fees and additional charges that students fork over every semester, many never see the sheer number of events, organizations, and resources that are available to make their time in college easier, if not at least a little more fun.  

Obligations to school, work and family may be the reason for not having any leisure time — and tirelessly pursuing your passion is admirable and worthy of recognition on its own. Understandably, reentering the social sphere at the moment is done wearily or not at all considering the ever-fluctuating state of COVID-19 infections and the need to keep safe. Even prior to the pandemic, however, relaxation and community engagement were an afterthought rather than a necessary function integrated into people’s schedules. 

As the pandemic has proven, social interaction is one of the most significant factors contributing to our mental well-being, community development, and ability to network and build meaningful relationships with others. While that may seem obvious, a stable setting in which an individual can communicate with others and collaborate in a constructive environment is a unique opportunity that being enrolled in university maintains at regular intervals, something that otherwise requires additional coordination and presents multiple obstacles. 

Large-scale events — like Minerpalooza, for a local example — unify the participating populace under a particular facet of their identity that is not denoted by beliefs or color, bringing them closer to others without even having to ask what trait they share. There are computer labs, and groups of innovators abound on campus, all inhabiting a common space where dreams and ideas flow freely between one another. Nostalgic movie screenings, advocacy groups, stargazers, study partners and more — the individuals that the university is comprised of are exactly what makes it renowned for its academic and cultural contributions locally and internationally, and these events just make it that much easier for brilliant minds to meet. 

For what personal testimony is worth, I understand how difficult it can be for some to align themselves with contemporary trends, mingle with the crowd at an event with an atmosphere like an artery about to burst, or even situate yourself between two other people at the gym. For those that wandered the perimeter and peered in through the windows at the social and involved, consider cleansing yourself of preconceptions and finding the peculiar, unexpected ways that life has attempted to invite you in all along. Life is not bleeding and waiting for better times; life is comprised of the little moments that make living a gift all its own. 

Julian Herrera may be reached at [email protected] and @jay_at_utep on Instagram