The shape of time, a message to my sister (and all graduates).


As you graduate, I cannot avoid thinking about how I felt when I was in your shoes. Everyone around you will be expressing how proud they are while your head will only be thinking about how much you need a job.

See, I think people are not proud of what you accomplished, which is four years of thorough study and college debt, but more so of the fact that you are finally ready to start learning.

I believe the college syllabus, regardless of the school, misses a crucial subject.

A class about time should be part of any major.

I am not talking about time management or any organization skills that are figured out individually after an exhaustive trial and error process. No, what I mean is the fact that no one teaches us about the shape of time. We might know how to measure, express, and even waste it, but understanding its mysterious and nonlinear shape is something different, something that we do not give enough thought to.

We are told that sacrifice and determination should pay off eventually. In our careers, relationships, and goals, we were taught that the harder we work the better the outcome, and, although this is true for most cases, this belief, in its explanation, lacks its most important component.


Represented by the formula, input = output, we assume a linear relationship, a simple correlation between what we are willing to give and what we should expect to obtain.

You are about to learn that this is anything but linear.

Universities might not do it, but life constantly provides us with learning opportunities.

Our bodies have never followed a direct path. When we work out, we don’t immediately see the results, when we eat a doughnut, we don’t see our bellies quickly get fluffy.

It is only later that we see the effects.

Plants, our crucial life saviors, do not grow right after you water them, they mysteriously wait until no one sees them before moving gracefully. Conversely, they do not die when thirsty, they cede life when you forget about them.

Time is the most important and difficult concept to learn.

You are about to apply to your dream jobs, pitch many great ideas, and beg for opportunities in front of people who appear to have their lives figured out.

Chances are, unfortunately, that none of these efforts will work out. Not the way you expect and were told it should be.

Naturally, this will discourage you, doubt the validity of your degrees, and even make you wonder what your mission in life is. Here, I implore you, is when you must remember about the unknown shape of time. It is not that nothing goes the way it should, it is that you do not understand it yet.

That awful job, dreadful salary, dull cities, and infinite rejections are, indeed, invaluable input that will eventually pay out, you just don’t get to decide when.

All you have left is trust.

You must believe in yourself, not in a Disney Super Princess way but more in a Serena Williams persona who somehow understood the shape of time despite hitting infinite inputs to the net and never seeing any wins for a long time.

Hit, hit, hit…until your swing becomes automatic.

In other words, never forget your dreams but try to ignore them most of the time.

Think of your dreams like a spaceship that has programmed a distant destination. For years you will not be able to see your landing spot, all you will have is a control panel in front that will force you, in the vastness of space, to concentrate one button at a time.

Remember, life will send you continuous reminders.

You are going to have conversations that will make you feel like you learn more than in any class, read books that will force you to stay up at night, and listen to songs that will bring back memories about that time in college when your problems were not.

In all those, you will forget about time, not because it disappears, but because instead of trying to control it, you will let it act on you. Listen to them, embrace them, it means you are on the right path.

Wisely, it is important to warn you that there will be a time when you will feel completely lost, more than any other. It will just feel different. 

A moment when the world and its social media will build the thought that you are behind everyone else, and that success, as you have always thought about it, doesn’t apply to you.

None of this will be true. It will be just another reminder.

A beautiful reminder that no one can do this alone. A mandatory teachable moment that will let you fully appreciate the bonds that only love can create. Love, as Dr. Brand (from Interstellar) points out, “is the one thing we are capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space”.  

At that moment, do not worry, your family will be there.

And, when you finally will start understanding this last course, life will start turning in your grades. The beauty will be in its form.

The grades will not be expressed in numbers but in heartbeats. You will not see them; you will hear them.

Each of your dreams will reveal right when you start dominating the art of ignoring them and when, more importantly, form does not matter to you anymore.

You will fulfill them in unexpected and magical ways, never how you thought of them but always better.

And sister, that will be the best feeling in the world.

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