I have nothing specific to write about today, no special thesis or “point” to my post. I have had to organize my thoughts too much this week, what with midterms and having to write papers with “clear, coherent material”. You know, teachers want you to know what you’re saying. But this time, I don’t really want to know. So let’s just see how this goes. I shall give this a Dada-ist swing to it and write automatically so as to tap into my subconscious (or you know, those reflective thoughts lying underneath the iron wall of rationality, organization and punctuality). I am just going to write freely and see what comes out, because what is defining this moment (and what pretty much summed up my week) are the contradictory feelings and vulnerably emotional state I am going through.
Tomorrow is Fall Break and that is pretty much the only thing anyone has been able to talk about (and how it will be a much deserved break from all of the stressful midterms and sleepless nights). All week Mawrters have been running around in their crazy-academic-driven faces spending meals chugging on hot chocolate (to calm nerves from another cold incomer this week: the chilly weather) talking about how they don’t have time to do all of their work and bonding over who has it the hardest. Lusty Cup is busy and full of caffeine-driven customers, and Canaday becomes as popular as a bar during Happy Hour while Carpenter patrons’ whispers intensify and become surprisingly loud for whispers as the carrels fill up with busy students. (Can’t say anything about Park Science building or Collier. Sorry guys – not a science major. For those updates, check with my friend Muna). Needless to say, students here at Bryn Mawr College are dedicated to their studies. But is it really worth wearing yourself out to the point where your body is running on caffeine, energizers, and some of that good ol’ adrenaline rush? Hmmm, I see a red flag somewhere…
I feel like, although we have a considerate amount of work, this state of survival happens independently of our workload. I had one 4-5 pg paper in French to write for Thursday. Not too bad. Still takes work and concentration and energy, though. So I decided to start working on it early and not leave it to that night-before-ultimate-pressure situation. I started on Saturday, worked on it again on Sunday, then Tuesday, and could only finish it late last night (it was due this morning). Wow! 4 days…do people take as much time as that? I know of classmates that did it all last night. Hmmm. I think I am a bit on the slower side. Or, by having more time, did I extend myself more than I needed to? In other words, could I have done the same thing but in less time in a more efficient matter?
I believe that we all have a tendency to drag things out. Make them take over our precious time. At least I have this characteristic…I work on something for as much time as I have to work on it and sometimes that turns the simple into the complicated. The paper consumed me all week, and caused more interference than it should have, than it would have if I had taken a more objective approach to it. I also believe that the environment we are in (especially in a small liberal arts college) is highly contagious, meaning, we absorb so much of what is around us. If your friends are stressed, then you feel as though you should be too, even if you aren’t. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I was feeling very peaceful, with no craving for sugar, and I felt as though there was something wrong with me. What a crazy idea! People will even go as far as bragging about how miserable a state they are in. Is this really what we should be working towards? To me, it seems as though our priorities are out of place.
This occurring pattern sometimes worries me about our students. I do not exempt myself from it – it is precisely my personal experience that has made me more aware of how much it happens all around me, constantly. I tried to make sleep prevail over work this week, and to maintain a calm state while eating healthy and having a positive mindset. I would say that I did ok – not too bad but not great either. I know it because of how I feel today, when everything is coming to a close. I feel overwhelmed and tired, and suddenly understand the need for this break. It is no wonder many other schools don’t have a Fall Break as big as ours (or even have it at all): Mawrters get so involved in their work that it becomes their lives. I wonder, however, if there is another way? Must we go to the tip of the cliff and almost fall off to feel like we climbed the mountain? Must we scrape our knees along the way? Isn’t just getting to the top, or even just the climb itself enough for us to feel accomplished? I think we may be trying to climb too high of a mountain.
We have to start thinking not only of our physical health, but also our mental and emotional. In fact, they are all tied. One influences the other. When we graduate, our lives will only get more complicated because – let’s face it – college isn’t reality. It is a very particular environment, where we don’t have to deal with responsibilities like cooking or paying rent or major house-cleaning (on top of having a job!). And this is even just while we are young. As we get married and have kids (for those who wish to follow that path), we will begin to be responsible for other people, and then it really gets complicated. So if we already have an unhealthy way to deal with responsibilities now, imagine when that part of our lives comes around.
I say I want to be able to deal with stressful situations (whatever they may be) in a calm and confident way. I don’t want to compromise my sleep, my eating, my friendships, (my fun!). In a way, Bryn Mawr is also teaching us that. In giving us sometimes more than we can bare, it is still giving us a choice: if we take it all, it is because we want to. We have the power to select what we spend our energy on. Because in life, we won’t be able to control what comes at us, so our responsibility is important in determining how we are going to deal with the problems that arise. And I say we should start practicing that sooner, rather than later.
Give internal peace a chance! Eat healthy! Take a yoga class, take a dance class. Relaaaax. Breathe. Smile. There is so much nature on this campus. Have you noticed how often we go by it without even taking it in, not one little bit? We will miss it once we are in the bustling crowds of metropolitan cities.
Anyway, HAVE A GREAT BREAK EVERYONE! Enjoy it!! Don’t do your homework, just relax, that is what it is there for! (Professors please disregard this…)