Trick yourself into being happy

By Sandhya Sivakumar, Columnist

Signing up for classes for the spring has been as stressful as it is every semester. I’ve become an expert at navigating a sea of closed sections and major restrictions. There’s a powerful kind of validation in waking up to an email alert at six in the morning, and grabbing the one spot that just opened up in a full class before any of the other jerks do the same.  

The process is both exciting and disheartening. The momentary satisfaction of finessing a perfect, symmetrical schedule doesn’t hold a candle to the overwhelming despair at the prospect of yet another semester of intense suffering.

I’m currently taking six classes, five of them technical. Life is an endless series of math I don’t want to do, midterms I just barely scrape past. Every week, like Sisyphus, I push a boulder of WebAssign, Lon-Capa, and FlipIt Physics in pursuit of those little green check marks, just to continually watch a new assignment pop up right as the last one gets turned in.

I try to remember the work I’m putting in now is going to pay off at some distant point in the future, but it’s close to impossible when the numbers begin to swim together and my brain starts melting. I’m always tired. I wake up in the morning and I immediately want to take a nap. I dream about matrices. I’m guilty about not doing my homework even while doing my homework.

It’s easy to burn out, especially if you’re majoring in something that you’re maybe not super passionate about. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s impossible to stay consistently motivated when you’re doing something that’s just inherently uninteresting to you. Sometimes motivation just fails, so I’ve been trying to push myself so hard that I don’t have time to waste time.

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Right now, though, I’m ready to be eaten by the sun.

Without the power to change the amount of work I have, or even how I feel about it, getting through the rest of the semester, much less the rest of college, feels impossible. Even though winter break is coming up, it’s hard to forget that the next semester is going to be just as tough.

So sometimes it’s nice to get on the wrong bus on purpose to have a little longer to spend listening to Mitski before spending six hours in the basement of Grainger. To close my umbrella while walking home in the rain to feel alive again, or to skip lecture to make burnt quesadillas, because they always taste better when they’re made on stolen time.  

Carving out space in your schedule for free time is hard. Finding time for it is one thing; justifying that seemingly wasted time is another. Sometimes it’s worth it to trick yourself into being happy.

Sandhya is a sophomore in LAS.

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