SENIOR COLUMN: Take time for yourself
Gabbi Oppenheimer, Photo submitted
Stop what you’re doing. Just stop.
I want to remind you that at the end of the day, none of this really matters. Some of it matters, but not a lot of it.
Hear me out.
As college students, we spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the superficial. The titles you hold, the awards you win, the honor societies you are tapped into. What parties you go to, what you wear, what you post on Instagram. I can’t say that I haven’t been caught up in it – I may very well be one of the worst offenders. So as someone who’s been around the block a time or two – who has spent some time asking, sometimes out of actual curiosity and sometimes out of pure exasperation,
“Who cares about any of this?”
“Why does this even matter?”
Let me be the one to tell you, it doesn’t. All of that is fleeting.
What have you done? Are you living a life to be proud of? Those are the things that matter.
Step back for a second – I’m not talking about being proud of how everyone else perceives you or of how much space you’ve filled on your resume. Deep down, flaws and mistakes and slip-ups and all, I want you to be proud of what you contribute, of how you treat people, and of how you treat yourself. That last one is important.
Go back and read it again.
Are you proud of how you treat yourself?
Think for a moment about the last time you did something completely for yourself, simply for your enjoyment. I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, it’s been a while. It is far too easy to get caught up in racing toward the next accomplishment or the next checkbox on a to-do list that we neglect to treat ourselves properly. Over the course of my four years here, there have been countless times that, in the midst of a marathon study session or a day full of back to back meetings and classes, I have had to stop myself to take a breath and remind myself that my entire life will not be derailed if things don’t go exactly according to plan. That I shouldn’t regret taking an afternoon off now and again to sit down and read a book or spend time catching up with a friend.
If there is one thing that I have learned during my time at UA, it is that most things eventually begin to deliver diminishing marginal returns. What I mean to say is that there comes a time when the next hour of studying, the next good grade, the next title, the next like on your latest Instagram post begins to bring you less satisfaction than the one that came before it. Each next
thing that piles on means less and less and less until some things mean nothing at all. There’s no extra benefit that comes from honor cord number 27. Some strain on your neck, probably.
However, the benefits of taking care of yourself and of those who are important to you do not slow down. I have regretted studying too much for a test, and I’ve regretted skipping brunch with my friends to work a sixth weekend in a row, but I have never regretted taking a break to talk a friend through a crisis or going for a run to clear my head. There hasn’t been a time that I’ve thought to myself, “I should have done some extra work when I was really stressed instead of having a quiet night lighting candles and catching up on the show in my Netflix queue.” And as much satisfaction I get from checking boxes on my to-do list, I have never once wished to trade an hour spent with my friends for an hour doing work at my desk. I’m disciplined, but I’m not a robot.
So, stop what you’re doing. Remind yourself that whatever it is you’re chasing does not matter quite as much as you think it does in this moment. In a few years, whether you graduated with a 4.0 or wrote a really great paper or even had an amazing internship isn’t going to mean a whole lot. Those things are great, yes, and I won’t discount the effort that goes into them. But I encourage you to look beneath the surface of these achievements to find what drives you beyond the prospect of adding a line to your resume. And remember, if you never step back to enjoy your accomplishments and reward yourself a little, what is the point of all that hard work?
Gabbi Oppenheimer is a senior majoring in Economics, Finance, and Telecommunication & Film.