University life is all about self-discovery; essentially, learning what makes you tick. This can be a challenging time when, for many us, we have to meet higher expectations than ever before. It isn’t easy juggling the responsibilities of school work, often in combination with a job and/or family commitments. We feel as if we need to make the most of our time and money and that spending it on anything other than our career or responsibilities is a shameful crime.
Far be it from me to tell anybody not to use their time responsibly, but let’s be realistic: sooner or later, you will slack off. Leisure time is important, and you should not feel ashamed for taking some for yourself. Unfortunately, many of us do feel ashamed. When taking a much-needed breather, many of us feel that we are wasting time that should be spent on work. Our looming deadlines and the ever-growing list of things we need to do occupy our minds and even though we may need time to relax, this anxiety means we cannot.
Too often I find myself in a limbo of neither working nor making myself happy. I need to relax to be able to work, but I cannot relax because I have to work, and so I find myself unable to do either. Instead of working or playing, I sit on my hands doing nothing, worrying about what is coming, hour after hour, day after day. It is a torturous existence, and one I suspect many of my fellow students are familiar with.
Lately, I have been trying a new philosophy: procrastination is unavoidable, time will be wasted. So, if you are not going to work, then you might as well have fun instead. Is there a pastime or hobby that you feel you don’t have time for? Go ahead and do it now. It’s not like you are going to find the time later, and time, as we all know, is a non-renewable resource. If the choice is between doing something and being happy, and doing nothing and being unhappy, then the choice is obvious.
However, it is not easy to break old habits and practice what I preach. I am slowly starting to overcome my guilt over putting off chores and assignments and doing things that I want to do but feel I do not have time for. You will either get the tasks done in time or you won’t, you will either succeed or you won’t, just like always. The difference is that you can enjoy the time that comes before, or spend it doing nothing but worrying.
The same principle applies to money as well as time. Getting and keeping a job isn’t easy, much less a well-paying one. For most of my adult life, I have not had a source of income, and even when I did, I rarely made more than minimum wage. This experience has conditioned me to save as much as possible, and I feel guilty when spending money on myself. The same guilt that comes from not working also hits me when I spend money on frivolities that I cannot easily replenish. Yet I enjoy the finer things in life, as well as the simple pleasures. Saving money gives me little satisfaction; instead, I feel sad and frustrated that I cannot have nice things. So, I say, treat yourself more often. Life is full of unavoidable expenses, and no matter how well you hoard your earnings, it will still slip through your fingers over time. What gives money value is what it can buy, and if you do not use it to buy things that enrich your life, then what is the point of having money?
Again, I am not telling anyone to disrespect their duties or to spend their money recklessly. Sooner or later you will have to knuckle down and get the work done, and you should always keep some cash squared away for a rainy day. What I am saying is that time and money will pass you by one way or another. If that time and money is spent on things that make you happier or healthier, then in my opinion, that time and money is not wasted. If you need to have fun, have fun. You will accomplish nothing by denying yourself and feeling guilty. So, eat out, or go play some video games. You will feel better for it. When the time finally comes to do those chores you put off, at least you won’t be a nervous wreck. Who knows, maybe you might do better than you might have otherwise with a clear head and peace of mind.
Image: Cory Jensen/The Cascade