March 23, 2016

MALPASS | Make More Bad Decisions

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Everyone’s really limping to the finish line here. Doesn’t it always feels like spring break comes a week too late? Look at me, it’s 3:30 in the morning and I’m just getting around to writing my column the morning before it’s due. While I’d love to say this is the result of the unfair hand of fate, I will be perfectly frank, if I had simply spent more time in the library, I could have finished the 200 some pages of reading, honors seminar essay, opinion column and the rest of the work I had in timely fashion and still make it to bed at a reasonable hour. But instead I chose to go out twice last weekend, stay up way too late and generally procrastinate in my various fashions. And I regret nothing.

The work ethic of the general Cornell student body never ceases to amaze me. Because while I know there are plenty in the same boat I am, I also know there are a lot out there who have way more work than I do, and still get it done in time while maintaining a stellar GPA.  And while these people sort of creep me out, I still respect them. But you know? Sometimes I wonder if Cornell students are a little too goal oriented, like they have nothing in their lives but their work. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen freak out because they got a B+ instead of an A. You hear these people talk as if a bad grade is the end of their year. Sometimes I think the competitive atmosphere here at Cornell is more damaging than encouraging. Sure, no one’s going to argue against being responsible and getting your work done, but I’ve seen it taken way too far here. I’m sorry, there’s no need to freak out because you got a B+ instead of an A.  And we all know someone like that. Stop. The world will not end if you lose that 4.0 GPA.

I think a lot of us are forgetting that a college education is not to be found solely in the classroom, it’s also in the social experience. You’re not going to learn how to talk to strangers in a physics textbook. And do we really want to look back on our college years and just remember what the inside of Olin library looks like? I’d rather not. These are some of our best years, and we need to take advantage of them. I don’t want to be in my 40s at my nine to five job (kidding, I’m an English major, I’ll be unemployed) and look back at my college years and realize I didn’t have any fun then either. We have our entire lives to be bitter and swamped in responsibilities, enjoy these last few years as much as you can. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with spending a few Friday evenings in the library, so long as that doesn’t become a habit. If that means dropping that third minor, then so be it.

What’s more, we need to be sure we take care of our mental health. No one at Cornell is a machine. I don’t care how much caffeine you consume, you’re not going to be able to study 24/7. And that’s perfectly fine, normal even. You should be viewing your mind as a battery that needs to be charged not just with rest, but with also with leisurely activity. Sleep is not enough; you have to enjoy some of your waking hours too.

So while it’s miserable to be up this late working on something I could have easily finished last weekend, I regret nothing. In fact, I urge all of you to waste more of your time. Stop studying, go get drunk and most importantly, don’t feel guilty about doing it. You’ll be better for it. Your comprehension of a class is not going to drop overall because you don’t do some of the reading. Your GPA will survive and so will your hireability.

Am I simply justifying my lax behavior? Maybe, but I honestly believe there is something healthy about slacking off. Sure, no one is going to argue that it’s important to pay attention to your academic work, but you have to strike a balance between that and enjoying yourself. Were the last few days miserable because of the work I had to catch up on? Yes. Will I regret choosing to go out instead of living in the library? Not in the slightest.

Soren Malpass is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at skm94@cornell.edu. Sorenity Now appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

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