March 19, 2018


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I woke up this morning in cold sweat from a dream that I slept through a prelim. Before I had a chance to reassure myself that it was a Monday and it was too early in the day to be sweating, I glanced at the 12 messages that needed responses on my phone, thought of the reading that I had to complete for my 10:10 class, and then felt the pile of laundry that has been sitting at the foot of my bed for the past week.

I glanced at the date, only to realize that I had to begin racking my brain for an idea to write about for this column, and then noted the time only to realize that I had a meeting on campus in 15 minutes. As I rushed to try to pop a pimple under my nose and brush my teeth before I headed out the door, it dawned on me: Do I even have time to think?

It was a question I asked myself several times last week each time I received a message from the University. It was a question I asked myself after hearing about an earthquake that struck my family in Taiwan, it was a question I asked myself after hearing about the recent violent national tragedies. It was a question I asked myself when my professor failed to accommodate my needs in an appropriate way, it was a question I asked myself when I ran from the library to class several times last week.

How do I have time to think when I’m trying to avoid the person that I hooked up with Saturday night, only to find them next to me on line at Zeus, or when I’m hyper-aware of the pimple that decided to prominently emerge under my nose? How would you have time to think when you have a problem set due at midnight, when you can’t miss another class to sleep in because you already used up all your excused absences, when you’re still trying to figure out what you want to do in life while everyone else is talking about their glorious 40 year plans?

There is an epic sense of loneliness that I have associated with the notion that I am the only one isolated and paralyzed by the events around me. It’s interesting to think about how loneliness can still fester even when you there are so many people physically around you. A sense of community goes beyond the physical presence of others, but it is the affirmation and validation that others are going through the same things.

And the plot twist is that I’m very well aware that I’m not the only one that feels this way. I’m not the only one who felt like every assignment was strategically planned to be due one after another. But it’s difficult to have to share these feelings when everyone else seems to have Instagram perfect lives — so here’s to being more open and honest about how we feel. It’s okay to be tired. And it’s so much easier to know that you aren’t the only one.

As a community, the ability to acknowledge how we are impacted by the events in our lives is imperative. Cornell should not be a sprint. I call upon faculty members and staff to listen to their students, to check in with their students and think about how we as a community can support one another. I call upon my peers to speak up for ourselves and each other to advocate for the space and time to think. I call upon each of us to give ourselves the agency and time to think. We owe ourselves at least that much.

I’m tired. But at least I’m tired and supported with the caring community around me. And that’s a lot more manageable than being tired all alone. Sharing the time with one another gives us time to think, to recollect and to move through Cornell together.

Dustin Liu is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He currently serves as the undergraduate student-elected trustee on the Cornell Board of Trustees. He may be reached at [email protected]. Trustee Viewpoint appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.