Lent 2017: Junior Year
When looking at my schedule outlined in my planner, with the highlighted notes and cramped handwriting, I try to think of what else I am missing. Did I write down that meeting with my advisor? Did I ever respond to the three emails my boss sent me today? How long is today’s recruitment meeting? Will I have enough time to grab dinner with my roommates? I can’t cancel again. Did I ever respond to my boyfriend’s text? Has that due date been moved for the paper? Or did I miswrite that? What wasn’t recorded from the emails that I recently received? What if somebody told me something in person that I don’t remember?
I was busy, but I was the sort of person who thrived on being busy. It gave me a purpose. I knew my schedule was bad when my roommate asked me what I was giving up for Lent.
“I haven’t decided yet. I usually try to do something extra, rather than give something up.”
“Can I make a suggestion?”
“Have you thought about adding self-care to your routine?”
Immediately thoughts of many sleepless nights studying and responding to emails flooded my head. If I didn’t have time to do everything that was already on my list, how could I possibly add another activity to my already busy days? Upon the look of horror that I am sure came across my face as I tried to imagine what it would be like to take time for myself, she backtracked.
“Even just a five-minute YouTube video, where you don’t think about anything, or you listen to a favorite song. That could help.”
I laughed. Apparently it had gotten bad enough that my roommates were starting to get concerned. This wasn’t ‘normal person’ busy. This was insanity.
But what could I really do? I couldn’t give any of it up.
I had demanding classes. That was to be expected. I’m a junior with a double major and a minor, and a student in the Honors Program. It is an unwritten rule at Drake University that everyone should have at least two majors. The underlying questions being, “If not, are you really making the most of your time? Have you truly challenged yourself?” The “Drake busy” mentality continues, because students are constantly competing with one another for grades, internships, and opportunities.
I couldn’t give up work. I had just gotten my college dream job at the public policy institute on campus, where I would research and analyze policies related to issues like disability rights. Not only was the job a good decision financially, but I would also be working every day with a well-respected, full-time staff in the policy and politics fields. These people could help me make connections and find a job after college. This is me really preparing for my future. While I have loved college, I can’t wait to start working on real-world policy issues. Instead of just looking at past policies, I will actually have the ability to shape policy in the future.
I couldn’t give up my sorority. It was my support system, and besides, I was the president of the organization. This position was something I had been working toward, always keeping in mind, since I was a first-year student. The president when I first joined embodied the ideals that I wanted to live by. At least, whenever I saw her, she was poised, confident, smart, and nice. I looked up to her, and some day, I wanted to be respected just like she was. Besides all of that, I liked being a decision maker in my chapter and looking out for the best interests of our organization. There was no way I could give up on that opportunity. I loved it.
I had finally gotten everything I wanted: the academics, the job, the connections, the title. I had gotten the responsibility that I craved, but I was letting the responsibility consume me.
The week following my Lenten commitment to take care of myself started off poorly. I attended a leadership conference on behalf of my chapter and took midterms. I dealt with the stress by eating three pieces of Funfetti cake. Hey, this was me making myself happy, right? If cake is my solace since I can’t sleep, this’ll do.
Lent 2018: Senior Year
One Tuesday night, my phone lights up with a text from my roommate. It is 10:15pm.
“Don’t know what time you’re going to bed, but I’m not going to be getting back from Meredith until 11:30pm. No need to wait up.”
“Ok, I’m already in bed.”
I look at my schedule outlined in my planner, with the highlighted notes and cramped handwriting.
I set my alarm, check my alarm two more times, and go to bed.