Every now and then, in between my constant hustle and mundane routine, I pause. I take a moment to take in what I’m really working for. Here I am, sitting in my PJs at 11:35 p.m. on a Saturday night, writing my unfiltered thoughts. In a world filled with social media, perfectly edited photos and fancy lifestyle tips, it has become impossible to accept mediocrity or worse, failure. I, personally, don’t like doing a number of things, yet I force myself to do them anyway. Not glamorous or inspiring at all but it’s true. Everyone sees the outline, the final picture. Nobody knows what happens behind the scenes.
The contradictions of our daily life seem intriguing to me. We are told to give our 100% without focusing on the result of our effort; yet, the result should be nothing short of perfection, because if it is, then we didn’t try hard enough. Again, not inspiring, but certainly true.
It’s safe to assume that everyone here is juggling multiple responsibilities. We are at “Work Forest,” after all. I see people simultaneously balancing 17 credits, three clubs and a part-time job. It seems to be a norm, if not an expectation to constantly stretch yourself thin in order to truly excel in your college career. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think it is inspiring to be surrounded by overachievers. All the internships, leadership positions, classes and social interactions are extremely meaningful and play a huge role in professional growth.
However, it is quite easy to get trapped in this rabbit hole of hustle culture. No matter how hard you’re working, there’s always someone who seems to be working harder. So where are you supposed to draw the line between hard word and over-exertion? The answer is subjective, as it should be. Everyone has their own goals, and, in my opinion, it is important to stay true to yours. Just because a friend applied for an internship abroad doesn’t mean that you should too. Of course, the converse is true is as well; a friend procrastinating isn’t an excuse to procrastinate your work. My point is, be intentional with your time, engaging in activities that truly bring value to your life. Ask yourself the purpose behind the work that you’re putting in. On any given day, you make a multitude of choices. Whether it’s doing homework, running errands, meeting up with a friend or working a job, there’s always a reason for that choice. It’s nice to remind yourself of the bigger picture since all these little things accumulate to form the life you want. So yes, succeeding academically is an integral component of a successful college career but so is having a stable mental health. Investing time into building meaningful relationships is just as important as studying. There are eight dimensions of wellbeing: social, physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial and occupational. It’s hard to maintain a balance among all of them. In fact, I would argue that there is no such thing as “a perfect balance.” Some days might be better for your social and intellectual wellbeing, some for your financial and emotional and that’s completely okay. The key is to recognize patterns and identify what part of your well-being needs more attention in the long term. At the end of the day, all your hard work is pointless if it isn’t bringing you joy.
We’re always in anticipation of what’s coming next that we forget to ground ourselves in reality.
As you are reading this, try to fully experience this moment in time. Take a deep breath and for once just pause for a second. Look around, admire the people you see, the sounds you hear, and the smells you recognize. This moment will be gone before you know it, so might as well take it in while you still can.