The collegiate glorification of busy

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By Alexandra Swanson

Ask a given college student, “How are you?” and far too often, we’ll respond, “I’m tired.” But what we really mean is that we are crazy busy, much too busy for sleep.

We have our phones on us at all times; we relish in registering for course overloads. We must participate in any amount of extracurriculars. It’s even better if we can get the leadership spot. Plus, we’re applying for internships and/or graduate school. After all that, there is intense social pressure to go out, have fun, and prove it on social media.

We love to complain, although we’re actually bragging, that we have this many papers and that amount of projects coupled with some amount of tests all in the coming week.

Clearly, college students are participatory in the glorification of busy: the notion that busy is best.

But, the fact is that not only is it detrimental for us to participate in the phenomenon, but also competing to be the busiest is absurd and probably immeasurable.

First, everyone in college is busy. I name everyone knowing there are certainly exceptions, but that is the general rule as I’ve observed it.

All of us have difficult courses and assignments, friends who need us and extracurricular obligations. So to engage in a passive-aggressive competition that decides who is busier is pointless. I don’t believe that any one major is definitely more demanding than another.

Second, for argument’s sake, let’s say that busyness is on a definitive scale and viable competition, would anyone really want to win?

I’m unsure as to how being busy became equivalent with being the best, but they should not always necessarily and automatically be considered synonymous.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with a strong work ethic and dedication.

But busyness, the way I perceive it, is something else. It’s the feeling that if you aren’t doing anything measurably productive, then you’re wasting your time. But, unproductivity is essential.

Our culture and society is overly time-driven. We eat our breakfasts and lunches on our way to class or while we study, and we study for hours on end without breaks. We pack our schedules purposely so that we often leave our houses early in the morning and don’t return until quite late in the evening.

But one likely needs some degree of unproductivity everyday to thoroughly enjoy her work. A student needs breaks to ultimately be as productive as possible; small bursts of unproductivity bolster great quality work.

Though we like to complain about having so much to do that we’re exhausted, the more sleep you get, the more likely it is that you’ll earn better grades

We need to stop measuring ourselves in terms of busyness. Instead, we should measure ourselves in accomplishments or how good we feel a given day rather than how tired; it just makes more sense.

We also have to stop thinking of college as a transitional period that sets us up for the professional world, a period that is aimed toward earning a degree at the end of four years. Rather, we need to enjoy the period for what it is. If that means dropping a course or pulling out of an activity, so be it.

College students need to give up being busy because it feels like the productive thing to do. We need to shave down our schedules to everything that is essential to our personal and professional growth; everything else can and should go.

Alex is a senior in LAS.

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