Last night, I was sitting in my dorm with the covers pulled up to my neck. I started by watching one episode of "House," then suddenly found myself watching three. I thought about all the things on my to-do list. I could be doing any one of the three research papers due the following week. I could have been writing an article for class or another one for an online magazine I run on campus. I could have been looking at internships. I could have been doing anything at all except relaxing, which felt dirty and wrong to be doing at such a stressful time.
So, when the clock struck one, I turned the television and lights off and struggled to fall asleep, like I do every night. It took over an hour as it always does but eventually tiredness over took by busy mind and I passed out.
I had worked all day on editing articles and looking up journals and books for my research papers, and yet, when I was so tired and my eyes were swimming, demanding a break, I could not really take one. Even when it looks like I'm relaxing, my mind is really working a mile a minute.
I have always been an anxious person and maybe this article will not make sense to a lot of people, but college is slowly teaching me to be more of a procrastinator and I'm writing this post to tell people that, not only is that okay, it's beneficial. I'm not saying that you should wait to do everything at the last minute, but what I am saying is that you should not try to do every assignment the moment you get it. You may think that you are being proactive and that you can relax later when everything is done, but the problem is that everything is never done. When you finish one assignment, you suddenly realize that there's another one coming up and you decide to get a jump on that too. You think that it'll help your anxiety to get everything done in one shot, until you realize that you suddenly have not slept all night, or eaten, or drank anything and now you have to spend the next six hours at class, before you go to work for another three.
Then when you finally get off and you're just happy you have no work for the evening, you're so exhausted, you lay your head down and promise yourself a twenty minute nap. When you do wake up, you realize that was three hours ago and you jolt awake when you remember that you could be writing an article or a paper or reading for class the next day or just about anything.
Being proactive is great. It might even be the best way to get the top grades. But remember that triangle you were told about at freshman orientation? It's truer than you realized. The three things that will lead to a fulfilling time in college: grades, health, and social time. But you really can only do two of those things at a time. The thing that nobody tells you in college is that grades can actually go on the backburner every now and again when you are ridiculously stressed out. No employer is going to see your grades. They are never going to say, "Gee, you got a B- in Developmental Psychology? I'm sorry, I just can't hire someone like that." All they care about is that you graduated from your college.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't care about your grades but often in college they should be the least important of the three. When you make social connections, you are making friends, which often help with a health portion, and you are also making job connections. At my school, there are directors, producers, and actors, all becoming friends. More often than not, they start collaborating and making films to put in their own portfolios. They are working on their future careers and making great social connections in the meantime.
The major focus should be on health. That should always be the top priority. Most students I find have it reversed totally. They put grades first and then social and their health is completely on the back burner. They say that they can focus on health over break or when their schoolwork slows down a little. Problem is, the schoolwork will never slow down. As busy as you are this week, you'll most likely be as equally busy next week, maybe even more so. You can't predict when your professor may change the syllabus and add an extra test or paper. All you can do is focus on today. I'm challenging you to every day make time to do one thing that you find relaxing, that's not sleep. Sleep is great but everyone needs a moment to themselves to stay fully sane and healthy. Watch Netflix, read a book, watch a movie, knit a scarf, just do something to make yourself happy and don't feel guilty about it. Everyone is telling you that these are the best years of your life. Prove them right and start taking care of yourself.