I was talking to a good friend today about how things have changed for us since freshmen year and she cited one example in particular that was a bit disheartening to hear. She told me about how time seemed far more abundant freshman year whereas now everything is scheduled. I couldn’t help but agree. Even though I try to keep as clear a calendar as possible, I can’t deny that activities start to pile up, meetings must be attended and work should be completed. If I had to fill in my calendar honestly, it would have far less white space than it does now. But I don’t want to do that because I don’t want to be the type of person who has a full schedule.
It’s not horrible that people have things to do. In a way, it speaks to the work ethic of a 21st century student. Still, that same work ethic is what can become overwhelming and even distressing. I don’t think that the average student knows how to balance work and leisure. I certainly don’t. I always find myself secretly jealous that some people can work as diligently as they do while at the same time I can’t help but feel sorry for their lack of fun. It especially becomes a problem when I look at Princeton’s social scene knowing that if people didn’t work as hard as they did during the week and spent more time relaxing they would probably have more time for dating relationships, meaningful conversations, political activism, and social awareness. They would probably also spend less time on the Street each Saturday night.
But we don’t have the time, or at least we don’t want to make it. I think that part of the reality is that as much as students complain about all the work and all the activities and everything they have to do, a very real part of them thrives on it. We love being busy. We love being tired at the end of the week. We love getting by with 5 hours of sleep. It proves that we can do everything we’re supposed to do even if that means leaving a few unimportant or relational things behind.
I don’t say this as a mere observer, I say this as someone who has very much felt that pressure to do more, to sleep less, and to stop any form of relaxation that may rear its ugly little head. Fortunately, despite all the Type-A personalities that surround me at school, when I go back to my room at night I can’t help but remember just how Type-B I am.
I’m not trying to condemn the work culture because I certainly think I could afford to work more. But there is something to be said for those moments of relaxation and leisure where we can separate ourselves from our career-oriented schedule for just a moment and appreciate how blessed we are right now.