Mind over Matter

Often when I tell people that I work out six days a week, work 22 hours a week, take 17 credits, sleep 6-8 hours per night and get all my work done days in advance while still maintaining a thread of a social life, they look at me like I’m crazy. They also assume I must drink copious amount of energy drinks or coffee or take some sort of medication to function like the Energizer bunny. I hate both energy drinks and coffee, so I tell them that it’s my dedication to time management and getting things done that allows me a schedule where I can freely go about my day well-rested, productive and happy.
As college students, when we think we don’t have enough time sleep is the first thing to get thrown down to the bottom on our list of priorities. The endless amounts of assignments, group meetings, classes and general perception of so-much-to-do-so-little-time we give ourselves should not induce stress but rather motivation. Part of the reason I stay so grounded and can do everything I want is that I realize that my free time should be used to fill in with these many life pressures, not spent social media-ing or watching a movie or trying to do productive housework like washing the dishes to avoid school work.
Why do I constantly hear people say they get excited when class gets canceled, or when they don’t have much work to do today? We’re here at the University of Michigan to learn something, to get an education. While it has been said that much of the learning you do at college happens outside the classroom, classes and responsibilities are important too. I choose to look forward to class and to studying, or writing or going to work because I know that it is what I’m supposed to be doing. It bothers me a lot when people’s attitudes don’t reflect this enthusiasm for learning and attending one of the finest academic institutions in the world.
Is my attitude and perspective just slightly too radical for my peers to adopt? Is the feeling of ranting on Facebook or twitter about how much work you have to do a rite of passage in the life of a college student? Why do so many faces I stumble upon across campus read as nonchalant or sad, when just a smile could instantly improve your mood and attitude and give you a whole new perspective on your day?
I do like to have fun, and I know I can have fun when I’ve earned it. But for having been surrounded with like-minded individuals for the past two-and-a-half years, I can’t help but feel that I’m an outlier in a sea of students who’d rather skip class and take a nap than go to class even if they’re tired because they want to learn.
Really, I let my attitude guide my philosophy on learning. It’s not like I came to this point that easily, it took about four semesters of trying to find my ideal life formula to be successful here. And as much as I talk about how balanced my life is, sometimes I’ll relapse and put off an assignment only to stay up late the night before finishing it. Mostly, I try to stay as disciplined as possible so I can stay happy and energized, willing to take on my responsibilities one day at a time. It’s mind over matter for me, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be for you too.

Gabriella Ring

Gabriella is a junior majoring in International Studies. She has traveled abroad extensively and hopes to work in the cruise industry after graduation.

3 thoughts to “Mind over Matter”

  1. This is a really interesting take on student life here on campus. I commend you immensely for your time management skills- like seriously, that is incredibly impressive. Much like you, I have an exceedingly busy schedule with classes, writing and editing for two publications, and playing club softball- it gets hectic. I think a lot of the time for me, I allow myself a little bit of time to myself to do whatever I want as a reward for working so hard. I like what you said though about how you just get your work done in the free time as opposed to “leisure activities.” I wish I had that kind of work ethic 24/7, but sometimes my brain just has to shut off for a short while.

    I know that going to school at U of M is a phenomenal privilege, and I also don’t understand the desire to skip class (I feel guilty when I am deathly ill and I miss). I just think that for a lot of students here, myself included, we aren’t trying to take everything so seriously. The way I see it, these are my last couple of years with a certain amount of freedom to be a kid before I am released to the real world. So of course I am going to be a little irresponsible every now and again and feel the rush of a fast approaching deadline.

    Last thing: I think the whole mind over matter thing is applicable to everyone’s situation. I speak on behalf of the procrastinators who stay up all night to crank out a paper, running solely on a power nap, that there is a whole lot of “mind over matter” going on. I just think the whole thing might not be just about time management, rather time allocation. Because in the end, we all get free time, we just choose when to spend it.

  2. Wow I do think it’s pretty crazy that you have so much going on and have time to workout! Great time management skills.

    I agree with your point about how people are excited for class to get canceled and skip and rant about their classes. One of my classes got assigned to an 8:30 am slot, and people were trying to switch out to another time. The catch is that you can only switch if you find someone else from another section, and being a college student nobody wants an 8:30 class. I’m not going to say I love the idea of an 8:30 class, but I was tired of hearing the whining and complaining from people about it. This class is for our major; we should WANT to go to class! I know people who would almost kill for the opportunity to be here at this school and I think people take this education for granted just like you said.

    But everybody has different priorities. I’ve heard the phrase “C’s get degrees” here, so it’s a mindset which is why students skip, spend hours doing everything but the assignment due. But you’re not the only one who has this love of learning. because even those sad faces on campus have certain classes that they love.

  3. I definitely see and can agree with most of your arguments. We, as University of Michigan students, are so incredibly privileged. Going to such a top-notch college is a genuine blessing that shouldn’t deserve the complaining it receives. With proper time managements skills–as you’ve clearly displayed– it’s entirely possible to get your work down. And even if homework takes awhile, we’re college students. We chose to attend a university, and we should at least take enough pride in education to find some enjoyment. It’s our job.

    However, I think it’s reasonable to be happy when you have a snowday. I consider school my job, and I love my job. But like anyone else who loves their job, I also enjoy some downtime. Considering we go to such a rigorous university, that down time doesn’t always come in copious amounts. Even my weekends consist of mostly studying followed by even more studying. To have a day off, particularly because it’s a historical moment, gives me the down time that I really need. Of course, I spent a large portion of the day getting ahead on homework, but I also got some time to relax. And that’s really important sometimes. After all, although Michigan sometimes assumes we are, we’re not robots.

Leave a Reply