I am UIC: Chasing time

clock faceWith graduation season upon us, there’s one phrase that’s bound to be thrown around a lot in the upcoming weeks: where did the time go? But if you think about it, time doesn’t go anywhere. It actually never leaves. People can’t get away from it, and it’s really unclear what it truly is. Is time just a construct of our minds or is it a physical reality that can be measured? Most likely it’s a confusing combination of both.

Time is so intimately connected with the progression of our lives that we feel like we can understand it despite its ambiguity. Alan Burdick explains in his book, Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation, that our perception of the passage of time is actually influenced by our perception of change. We use our milestones and our setbacks in life to judge time’s progression. “Time is a volume, and we are its vessel,” said Burdick in an article from The New Yorker, or perhaps “time is the container to our thoughts; the present moment is undefined without our mind to fill it.”

Although time is a universal phenomenon with debated physical origins, we are in control of our own experience of time. Most people find that time moves faster as they get older, but Burdick cites many surveys that show that people will always say they feel like time is passing quicker than it was when they were younger no matter if they are 80 or 20 years old.

So does time actually move quicker or is there some feature of our daily activities that just makes it appear as such? The answer is most likely the latter. Burdick explains that when we are busy, particularly busy with tasks we enjoy, time seems to pass at a faster rate. With this perspective, it’s probably not such a bad thing that four years of college seem to have come and gone within the blink of an eye.

As you continue onto the next chapter of your lives, don’t be too concerned if you feel like time is flying by. All it means is that you are busily engaged with activities you genuinely enjoy and that’s a sign of time well spent.


Hoda Fakhari is a senior studying biochemistry and English with a concentration in media, rhetoric and cultural studies. She is interested in making connections between subject areas that appear uncomplimentary in order to arrive at more diverse and relevant ways of understanding people and society.

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