To Take Stress Off Its Pedestal, Find Personal Time

By Kylie Mohr

Do you really have time to read this article?

Think about it. Shouldn’t you be writing a paper, dropping by office hours, rushing to a meeting or filling out internship applications? Aren’t you busy?

Our culture on the Hilltop says you should be. You should be filling your days with anything and everything. Cram as much as you can into every second, every minute and every hour. Fill your iCaluntil the blocks overlap and form a beautiful rainbow of colors and stress.

When did being unhappy and being spread too thin become a contest? I’ve noticed that even conversations with friends inevitably turn into comparisons of who is the most stressed and most sleep-deprived. Our glorification of being busy has gone too far, and I’ve come to realize that this isn’t a competition that I want to win.

I had my “aha” moment a few weeks ago in the dead of midterm season. Like everyone else, I had a lot to do. I felt like if I just kept moving, maybe schoolwork and extracurricular commitments wouldn’t catch up to me. My type-A planning tendencies took over. I reasoned that I could take control of everything at once with a smile on my face. I have never been more wrong.

I had no wiggle room and definitely no time for myself. Here’s a rule of thumb: You know you’re doing too much when you plan how many minutes you have to take a shower (10) or eat your breakfast (five). If I got distracted singing or relaxing in the warm water for even a few seconds, I would be late to whatever I was off to do. If my oatmeal was too hot, and I couldn’t eat it soon enough, I knew I would be frantically dashing through campus to make up for lost time. Even things I love like practicing yoga and hanging out with friends were becoming stressors and chores as I squeezed them all together. I thought I could literally do everything, and it began to take a toll on me.Recently, I found myself walking by Healy. The sun was shining, and it was a beautiful day, but I wasn’t soaking it in at all. I had my head down, glancing at my phone, making a to-do list. It hit me: This isn’t how I want to live my life. This isn’t how I want to remember Georgetown. I want to make time for what I love. That camera sitting in my closet? I want to take it out, brush off the dust and pick up my hobby from this summer again. Those books on my nightstand? I want to actually read a novel for fun. I want to have time to surprise my friends with little adventures. I also want time to do nothing, to be spontaneous and to be relaxed. And I think you probably do too.

A conversation needs to be started about why we feel it necessary to be busy 24/7 and how we can change this culture on campus. The glorification of stress and busyness isn’t healthy. Pulling all-nighters doesn’t make you a better person — it makes you a tired person. Think about your interactions. When you see them praising constant, demanding schedules, change them. Change the tone of banter with your friends, talks with your parents and the voice in your head. Remind yourself that time spent doing anything you enjoy isn’t time wasted. Remind yourself that not everything should or even can be planned.

We are all driven students with big goals and dreams. Our aspirations can still be achieved with a different mindset. There will always be times of high stress; all I’m saying is it shouldn’t be the norm. We can be happier if we don’t always overschedule ourselves. We can do great things and be successful while also having down time. Let’s experience the moment we are in instead of moving so quickly to the next. I can already tell that college goes by quickly, and I don’t want to miss it between the scribbled pages of my calendar.