By Belén Cusi, Staff Writer
At the beginning of the week, my cousin posted a quote on her Facebook that really resonated with me. Little did I know that by Friday, I’d be surrendering my life completely to those words, burned and beaten after having achieved more failures in the last three days than I can count on one hand. I know, you’re wondering what these mighty words are, but just wait. If you’ll control your desire and hear me out, I promise you’ll find what you’re looking for.
So, my week sucked. Ever felt that way before? Don’t lie! But what really upset me the most was that it was my own fault. In the thick of an awful week, angry at the world and very, very irritable, I was acutely aware that it was I who was the very inducer of it all, and my frustration increased exponentially.
How did this happen? My over-commitment to projects coupled with weeks of procrastination, an inflated ego, and very little sleep sent me into the biggest sh*t storm Boston has possibly ever seen. In short, I woke up Tuesday in my shoebox of an apartment on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Marlborough Street (no, you’re not invited) with a list of about seven assignments. I had four articles, one take-home test and who knows what else that needed to be done by Thursday. And somehow, up until that moment, I thought I’d get it all done. Surprise of the week: I’m not superwoman, and just like everyone else, I actually need to give myself more than one hour to write papers and finish assignments.
Sound like anyone you know? Maybe you’ve been there? Well, I’m about to share with you what I learned from this hellish experience, in the hopes that this never, ever, ever, happens to you again. Honestly, it was straight up, damn near depressing. I’m surprised I was able to keep it together long enough to live to tell about it.
What ended up happening was that Thursday came and completely destroyed me. I stayed up late Wednesday trying to get work done, so come the next morning I was a deadbeat who slept through her alarm and woke up half an hour into what should’ve been her first class. (At least the decision was made for me—I wasn’t going to be attending). This gave way to a second decision—that I needed to stay home and do my work, rather than go to my next class at 11 a.m. The result? Two classes and their respective assignments incomplete, and me, at home, in my pajamas, a little depressed and a lot overwhelmed. Oh, and I had to be at my internship in Somerville by 2 p.m Things were really great! (Cue alarm bells exploding inside my head.)
Ultimately, I realized that the reality of the situation wasn’t going to change whether I freaked out or not—the damage was already done. So, I decided to take responsibility and accept the consequences of my inaction right then and there. I emailed my professors telling them what happened, apologizing for not being in class and telling them I’d hand in the assignments by the following day. I went to my internship, did what had to be done there and later went home and continued my schoolwork.
Now all of this doesn’t mean that once I owned up to my mistake the rest was sunshine and butterflies. The nightmare had only begun. Actually following through and getting all the work done was exhausting. What should have been a care-free weekend became a bottomless pit of one assignment after the next, of zero socializing, of a runny nose and a slight fever. I was staying up until the wee hours of the morning typing like a madwoman only to wake up three hours later to continue working.
What did I learn? That I get in my own way, letting fears and doubts and concerns in my mind prevent me from just sitting down and doing the work. Once I would finally get started with an assignment, I would realize that it really wasn’t so bad, and that —gasp—in a different situation, perhaps with more time (perhaps as a disciplined and responsible student), I might even enjoy doing it. I also realized the need to carve out time for myself. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I over-commit. Between my classes, an internship and two part-time jobs, the only day I have off is Sunday, which I usually fill up with social activities. Somehow it escaped me that maybe the root of all my problems is that I don’t the time to just sit at home and think about things, school, work, friends or life. Luckily, I spent this Sunday all day at home, doing NOTHING. Victory was mine.
I realize this may not apply to all of you, especially you disciplined, brilliant, sparkling students, but for the rest of us busy, over-achieving, curious, slightly disheveled students, this kind of thing does sometimes happen. And let me add that this isn’t typically how my weeks go. You may be surprised to learn, after having read about complete disaster in the first five paragraphs (thank you), that I am actually quite functional most weeks. But we can’t win every time, and I, for one, am making sure I never stoop quite that low again. (I’ll inevitably stoop again at some point, but I won’t be breaking last week’s record.)
Oh, and the quote I promised you? From Teresa Elizalde, director of Ohlalá! Magazine in Argentina:
“We can’t do EVERYTHING. And more so when we want to do everything WELL. The secret lies in being able to CHOOSE. In respecting our personal time. Our space. And above all, our decisions.”
Ugh, if only I had known.
Suggestions or thoughts? Belén will happily accept your inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.