College can often be exhausting, let’s face it. Confronted by an ever increasing tide of homework, exams, extracurriculars, research and other obligations, it is often hard to find time devoted solely to ourselves. Keeping academics and extracurriculars in check asks for a significant time commitment, but it is one we readily make for better prospects in the future.
I know I am repeatedly told that I should work hard in my classes as an undergraduate and get into competitive internships, whilst putting less related activities on hold to heighten my chance of getting a job or getting into a graduate school of my choosing. It is important to make sure we are not slacking, but with all of our time and energy going into things that need to be done, we never pin down some personal time, which is a problem.
For example, even when I do take an early night from studying to rest or decide to Netflix a bit before going off to a meeting, I feel guilty. I feel like I am deviating from the main goals at hand to sit and do nothing, like I could be cramming just a bit more in that interval of time.
I think one of the main problems in society today is that this mindset is common. People, especially college students, are so driven by an aspiration they have or end goal they have set, that it is almost impossible to justify why we should take a break. Life in undergraduate years can be like a never ending checklist of things we must do to make ourselves attractive to an admissions committee or some future employer. It is essential to remember that there is a fine line between being driven/determined and being overworked. Many students pile on more and more onto already crammed schedules and then wonder why there is hardly any downtime for them to take a breather.
What also plays into this feeling of being constantly overwhelmed is that so many of us do not realize there is any other way to feel. At an institution like Case Western Reserve University, most people are actively doing, applying or taking the next step. There is very little talk of putting responsibilities on pause for even a brief time to simply realize what we want to do for ourselves. Whether this comes in the form of a study break, working out or taking a nap it is crucial to fit in things that make you feel good—and—whole again. Being a student comes with a lot of inherent tasks and these should include activities that serve not a purpose in advancing our careers, but in personal fulfillment.
The majority of the issue lies within us—the desire to constantly better ourselves academically, to be a superior student and worker across all realms does not come free of negative consequences. A mentality of pursuing success does not always mean surrendering personal time, however, we just need to be proactive in prioritizing ourselves. Placing the needs of one’s own body first is a concept foreign to most college students. It is high time we reevaluate our daily schedules and make an active decision to take some time off to enjoy us—to be unapologetically free from outside obligations and cultivate personal growth.
Ankita is a third-year student majoring in Biology.