Effective advertising makes everything visible, and on this packed campus, there are a lot of opportunities to notice. From DavisConnects to ColbyNow, there are constant announcements of things to do. This doesn’t mean every opportunity is an option, but so many people here are programmed to do the most they can achieve at any time, all the time. The clubs, teams, organizations, and overlaps among participants attest to how driven the student population is but also ultimately to how incredibly busy everyone is.
All of these activities and the preparation for each take time and energy, which I expected to be abundant when I started studying here. We are in a neat location with opportunities like smart scholars everywhere and long winters. Instead of all the time and energy to find what I came to learn, study, and do, I’m trying to clarify an expectation to make the most of everything at our great little liberal arts college.
If everyone does everything, how do they have time to rest? Having opportunities to be involved isn’t the most actionable concern and sounds more individual than systemic like people should decide not to put too much on their plates at any given time. But this constant pace is practically an expectation. It’s a problem of privilege, a resource overload.
As an artist, I am often overwhelmed by the volume of content that is out there to consume. Subscriptions, too much content. Writeups to accompany every advertisement, opinionated reviews galore, long captions with most posts on creative accounts, articles with hyperlinks and pathways to learn more (and we genuinely love research here, but there is not enough time to peruse and pursue all of these channels of information.)
Sometimes it feels like I don’t even have time to read the news. If you haven’t had time to do that yet, by the way, then by all means skip this section and focus on Page 1.
Even this paper embodies the exciting variety of perspectives and opportunities, all the things people have to say around here, and all the ongoing events. We reward involvement and hard work systematically, as a society. These rules factor into lots of students’ decisions, like my friends with several campus jobs who are looking for post-grad jobs and my professors who travel and teach constantly, and the wide variety of alumni doing different work. If work is a measure of success, this population is successful because whether it shows or not, most people work quite hard.
College students are notoriously good at this, always really busy, but also balancing free time. Maggie Lange’s New York Times article “The Case for Chilling” is essentially about how to hang out. The review discusses a book called Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time by Sheila Liming. The power is in the balance, knowing when to do what, and how much time to spend on each little thing.
The college hamster wheel most rewards and encourages those who already know what they want to do before they start. This expectation involves several different kinds of hard work and especially the strategy of figuring it out as you go. Some fields do not have room for planning years in advance, and lately, neither does life. Amid COVID burnout, heading into a final push of the semester—and of college for some of us—the best opportunity we have is to practice doing what works for us individually.
Life’s purpose is a massive item to define. I’m not a philosopher (though I tried that subject) and so I’m sharing small observations here rather than profound thoughts. Like a thesis for a paper, it has to work for a specific context. If I keep a purpose in mind as I discover ideas bigger than books and papers in school, I feel more ready to break out of the small, opportune community of our campus.
However we recognize the opportunities around us, they are both exciting and overwhelming. Just finding and doing something meaningful to you should be all that matters right now. Each season requires something different from us, and as the semester rapidly wraps up and the mountains of work get closer, I am all for making time to just have time. As always, there are sunsets to enjoy and friends who want to catch up.
~ Molly George ’23