Hard work is not a crime

The meaning of Spartan life

Jacob Martin

I am constantly told I need more balance in my life. Just this past weekend at my cousin’s wedding, I was told in numerous conversations that I need to make time for a social life—that I need to have more fun in life.
Between countless hours spent studying in the Kelvin Smith Library, 20-plus hours a week spent working my job and struggling to reserve a quick hour or so to workout, not to mention writing this column and a number of other meetings I often have, I don’t have time for a so-called social life.

I must say I’m not complaining, I’m just stating a fact that seems relatively universal for most Case Western Reserve University students. Everyone is dissatisfied to some degree about the social scene on campus. I’d actually argue that the one unifying factor among us is this weird social dynamic of CWRU. That said, what is fun anyways? What makes one activity fun and another a chore?

Personally, I enjoy studying. I enjoy reading a challenging novel, agreeing or disagreeing with a New York Times Op-Ed piece, and engaging in a stimulating academic discussion: One could say school is fun for me.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like a break from time to time though. Certainly anyone’s grasp of reality would slip without moments of relaxation, but I’ve always found satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment from the pursuit of knowledge in the hope it will translate to wisdom someday.

The beauty of life is that this is not the case for everyone. Life would be extremely boring without other people and their differences.

I tell you all this because CWRU is not real life.

We currently live, work and play in this bubble called University Circle. University Circle is not a good representation of the city of Cleveland, much less the rest of the world. Any college campus is a wholly unique environment set off from society. As students, we must be skeptics, always ready to ask questions about ourselves and our worlds.

What do you think about the world and yourself? What are your beliefs, values and morals? Do you have any? I speak as an observer and from personal experience when I say without a firm sense of self-awareness you will fail at life after college.

College is a lavish party compared to the real world. No one cares what your GPA was, how many student groups you led or how popular your fraternity or sorority was after you graduate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these accolades and I commend them because they allow us to find our passions and talents and provide an outlet to schoolwork. But these things are merely steps to becoming a successful adult prepared to face a somewhat indifferent society.

Nonetheless, college is the only time you get to sit around and talk about ideas and share experiences with an entire campus full of people. It’s the only place where you can stay up until 4 a.m. discussing such things as the existence of God and the meaning of life and still be able to function with something resembling success in your class at 9 a.m.

So why do we take these years for granted? We complain about every homework assignment and then procrastinate, leading to an all-nighter of self-imposed torture that we will in turn complain about the next day.

Sure, weekends are potentially filled with endless opportunity for reverie and “fun,” and I’m not trying to take that away from anyone. Whether your idea of fun is a night in playing video games, going to see a documentary, staying out late drinking or studying, I am not judging or condemning what you do. What I am doing is asking you to ask yourself why you do the things you do.

Arnold Schwarzenegger gave the commencement address to the University of Southern California’s class of 2009. He offers immensely uplifting words, giving his six rules to success. “As you prepare to go off into the world, remember [these] six rules: trust yourself, break some rules, don’t be afraid to fail, ignore the naysayers, work like hell and give something back.”

He says that rule five is the “most important rule of all. There’s absolutely no way around hard, hard work.” He remarks, “Let me tell you, it is important to have fun in life, of course. But when you’re out there partying, horsing around, someone out there at the same time is working hard. Someone is getting smarter and someone is winning. Just remember that.”

Whenever I mention this speech I’m usually met with laughter because it was given by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but his six rules are great rules to live by. So when I’m told to rebalance my life, I recite the then-governor’s words, asserting that I’m just trying to be that hard-working someone out there.

Jacob Martin saw a bird fly into a window and fall limp on the ground earlier this week. Upon going outside and poking it, it flew away seemingly unharmed. Life is good.