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Columns, Opinions

Bosis ’19: Making time to live in the present

By
Staff Columnist
Friday, November 2, 2018

Over my first three years at Brown, semester after semester, the times I’ve felt the best were always when I was the busiest. I packed my schedule with activity after activity, and my days would take on a rhythm to which I’m sure many of you can relate: wake up at 8 a.m. and shower, maybe get breakfast before you run out the door. Head to class, then finish some last-minute work in a coffee shop before you head back to class. Eat lunch while doing work in a library, then head to a few meetings, work at Jo’s and go back to the library. If you finish everything on time, head back home at 2 a.m. and fall asleep, ready to do the same the next day. With so much on my plate, I barely had time to scroll through Facebook, let alone be introspective in any healthy capacity. But despite my best efforts to mindlessly go about my day-to-day, I’ve come to an epiphany.

While I was grumpily washing dishes, thinking that I was at least learning a good skill for real life, I experienced the bizarre sensation of discovering that the way I envisioned my life didn’t align with the way I was actually living it. All of a sudden I realized: As a college student, I’m not preparing for my “real life.” I’m living it.

If there’s one thing Brown students do well, it’s committing to the grind. (If you don’t believe me, go to the SciLi basement pretty much any weeknight during midterms and again in the morning, and count the number of people who are still there). It’s incredibly easy to become a workaholic here — everywhere you turn, there are people you can look up to who seem to be juggling 10 leadership positions, sleep and a thriving social life with ease. Of course that’s not really true of anyone, but it contributes to a culture of feeling like you should always be doing more. Fortunately, enough people sustain this illusion that we’ve developed something of a support network, and people feeling totally overburdened by their work often have a variety of resources that can serve as a lifeline.

When it comes to just getting by, I’m often my own worst enemy. For better or worse, life as a Brown student can be unbelievably busy, but for a long time, I honestly preferred it that way. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the frequent feeling that I’m running on a log in water, just one misstep away from flying off in spectacular fashion. But it was actually those times when my routine afforded me some free time that I began to compare myself to my friends here and to think that I wasn’t doing enough to succeed. (Friends: You are amazing, I love you, but please for the love of God stop being so good at everything). So I kept myself busy, and tried desperately to find a way to love the things I thought I was supposed to be doing.

That constant frenetic pace of life is so common here that I never really questioned it, but it’s also 100 percent responsible for the fact that I somehow never stepped back enough to realize that I need to make the most of the present. This is what we get. It’s not like this is an extraordinary or even original idea, but it is one that I thought I knew and at least in some way lived by. Unfortunately, by and large, I haven’t — that much has been made clear by the changes I’ve had to make while trying to remedy the dissonance. I’ve given up resume-building positions for the chance to just sit and write, and I’ve committed myself to spending more time with my friends and pursuing things I enjoy at the (unfortunately) intentional expense of my grades. And while I’m still far from having a great or easy time, I find myself with two things I previously didn’t think could coexist: free time and contentment with my semester. It’s just a shame it took me so long to get here.

Ben Bosis ’19 can be reached at benjamin_bosis@brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and other op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.

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