The value of wasted days
In this day and age we value being busy. This is nothing new. We admire the people who barely have time to breathe in between their extracurricular meetings, their 18-credit class schedule, their dedicated workout regimen and their full-to-the-brim social life. Those students get our respect and probably induce a lot of introspection. I’ll admit it, I’ve found myself wondering if I should be doing more. Do I join another club, take up an impressive hobby? I’ve packed my schedule fuller than my suitcase when going home for the summer, and I’ve been to so many extracurricular meetings in one day that I left my house at 10 a.m. and didn’t get back until 10 p.m.
But finally the extra-busy lifestyle has started to take its toll. Perhaps I’m suffering from burnout, but after three successive days of leaving my house at 8 a.m. and returning after 8 p.m. I was worn out. Oftentimes, I then try to spend the weekend cramming in visits with my friends who I can’t see during the week since I am so extremely, mind-blowingly busy. My friends are understanding, but at times I can tell my schedule and the difficulty it puts on our hangout time even stresses them out.
This pattern has worsened my fourth year as I attempt to prepare myself for the real world and set ridiculously lofty goals, like trying to get a 4.0. As I bulldoze through the week, attempting to accomplish the many tasks on my to-do list, I wear down. By the time Friday hits all I want to do is go to bed.
This past weekend was a prime example. After realizing my workload was light this weekend, I let myself off easy Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Call me a loser, but these nights are typically reserved for getting a decent amount of homework done and preparing for the week ahead.
Not this week. Thursday night, I did the unthinkable and rented a movie. I proceeded to watch this movie without a second glance at my backpack, though I did guiltily think about schoolwork from time to time. The next day, I considered doing work. I really did. But instead I found myself recovering from a long week by running errands and performing normal human tasks like preparing breakfast and washing my hair. It amazed me how I had been missing these necessary, simple tasks for the sake of one more extracurricular meeting. But now, washing my hair without the looming danger of a missed deadline, I was able to appreciate the task. OK, I’m being dramatic. But come on, sometimes washing your hair can be fun. Or maybe this is a sign of how much fun I’d been sacrificing for the sake of résumé-building.
Saturday I allowed myself an entire day to lie in bed and watch reruns. Not even allowed myself — I could not bring myself to actually pick up a schoolbook or text a friend. I needed time to myself. To remember what relaxation and no pressure felt like. I berated myself for not getting ahead in my work as I knew I should be, but I was so exhausted I couldn’t lift a finger.
Sunday arrived, and the panic of a wasted weekend set in. But, I realized, I have the entire day to accomplish everything. My mind feels rested and my brain is filled with crappy jokes from “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I feel fresh. Maybe if I can strike the balance between busy and wasted time, I won’t be forced to binge-relax. Even though I have a lot of work ahead of me, the wasted weekend was worth it. If you ask me, wasted time deserves a lot more respect.
Simone’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.