When I’m not in class, I’m doing classwork. When I’m not working on the usual load of assignments, I’m working out. When I’m not hitting the weight room, I’m working at my on-campus job. When I’m not there, I’m out doing the weekly volunteer work, as per my college’s grad requirements. When I’m not tutoring the two elementary-aged students I’ve been assigned to, I’m involved in a series of paperwork, appointments, meetings, and correspondence with various professors. And when I’m not doing that, I’m scribbling down in my agenda for the next week’s set of tasks. Maybe you’re seeing a trend?
I’ve always been older than my age, if that makes any sense. Not out of pride, just personality. Having grown up in an environment in which I was expected to perform well, I’ve learned to grow up fast in terms of getting what needed to get done done. I suppose you might say that I’m living in a 19-year-old body ruled by a 30-something workaholic in a business suit.
I work hard to play hard. However, whenever that playtime does come around, it’s mostly spent mapping out my next move. It’s like taking your presentation charts with you on your Bora-Bora vacation.
The truth is too, I love the feeling of accomplishing something. But it’s also my therapy, throwing myself into my work is. When I’ve been provoked, hurt, or disappointed, my workaholism is kick started into overdrive. I hate crying in response to negative situations. That’s not to say that I don’t, but if I do, it will be in brief and in private, because inside I know it accomplishes nothing. Without going into too much personal detail, let’s just say that for at least the past six consecutive semesters, I’ve nailed my personal best grade point averages in my academic career. Intelligence? Hmm. Or just a result of my go-to response to particularly trying times?
On Sunday night, I was going through my Facebook feed as usual, scrolling through the slew of friends’ photos of frat parties, football games and other fun-looking events. All smiles, not a trace of regret. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. In my therapeutic “workaholism,” I haven’t paused long enough to determine whether or not I too am happy where I’m at.
Certainly I should be. I’m resting comfortably on my grades, grades that I earned so that I don’t have to be a wreck during finals week. My future roommates and I are getting one of the first picks for fall housing. I’m feeling a bit hopeful about some jobs I applied for for next year. I’m departing for Thailand in less than three months. I’m taking classes that I actually like next semester. And a year from now, I’ll be studying abroad at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. All the above are things I’ve worked tirelessly for. But all these things are in the future. When you ask me if I’m happy in the present – in the now – it’s a trick question.
Even at the beginning of the year as I was coming in from work, one of my hallmates said to me, “Whenever I see you, you’re either doing homework or you’re at work.” It was said in a friendly, teasing manner, but it made my heart drop because I knew – no, I know – it’s true. I honestly don’t remember the last time I had “the best night ever.” I used to know, though.
It’s a vicious cycle, wanting to be a “normal” (whatever that means) college kid, but being too preoccupied watching my back and protecting my reputation from being marred by failure. Maybe it sounds dumb or pretentious to you, but I can tell you that it sucks, it really does. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, more power to you.
I want to go back to those weird nights out with my friends, when we had something of a devil-may-care attitude towards it all. The college acceptances and rejections, the curfew, the unrequited feelings, the everything. I want to do something stupid (fun-stupid) or out of the ordinary, as stupid as that sounds, because my fond memories will last longer and mean more to me than a check mark next to a finished task.
I usually like to end these things with a positive spin, though I am not – nor will I ever pretend to be – a Pollyanna. I guess my point is – don’t be like me. Don’t believe the once-I-get-this-all-done-then-I-can-relax-and-be-happy philosophy. In the words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” Get out of it while you can. As for me – well, school’s done in two and a half weeks. Then I can relax. Maybe.