Duke is hard. Like, really hard. And as my pre-med aspirations grow closer to extinction, I’m still fighting to keep the dream alive. But lately I’ve been at my wit’s end; my limitations grow more tangible with each passing day, and my willpower is running dry. And the more I become engrossed in my studies, the less I seem to be content with the way everything is going. Most regrettably, I have been turning a blind eye to the things I enjoy most. So I’m changing my priorities this semester—I’m prioritizing happiness.
As a freshman last year, I may have gone a little overboard with the happy. Shooters was the mainstay of my day-to-day life—to use the phrase “turn up” puts it pretty simply. But this was artificial satisfaction, with memories hardly worth remembering if I could even remember them at all. But to lament about my past stupidity would only contribute to the foolish existence of my past self. So I figured I would press forward with determination and confidence—five classes and a gig with the school paper sounded like a more wholesome lifestyle than most.
Now each day seems to blend together into a deadline-filled delirium. I have become nothing less than a slave to my Google calendar, meandering through my daily life with little to no forethought. Everything seems so mechanical, so systematic. The spunkiness I once exuded has been extinguished, and my carefree nature has all but vanished. I don’t have time to get four hours of sleep, let alone spend time with the people I care about most.
And I hate it.
There’s this air about Duke that I can’t seem to shy away from, no matter how much I try. It’s almost as if there’s an immense weight on my shoulders that can’t be alleviated, and I don’t know how to break free. Being away from Duke for a few days was just what I needed this Fall break. The work never stopped—the only “break” I had was from Duke. It was liberating.
Everyone needs an escape from the world. But the last thing I want to do is revert back to the destructive decisions of my freshman year to cope with the struggles I face. Anyone can study by day and party by night—but that’s not the life I want to lead. But when I think about my high school days and all of those clubs and activities I put on my resume, I realize that I—quite literally—am doing none of them. I no longer write songs, let alone pick up my godforsaken guitar, and I most definitely am not about to play for the marching band anytime this century.
Like I’ve said, pressing forward is getting harder and harder. And as little time as I seem to have now, I understand that I don’t want to live like this anymore. The other day I serenaded a male compadre with the smooth musical stylings of Jack Johnson. I went and submitted a song to Small Town Records. Hell, I’ve even begun to sacrifice entire days to attend Super Smash Brothers tournaments just to get away from it all.
As you all well know, when you’re at Duke, there’s never truly a free moment. Any second wasted could have been precious time spent elsewhere. But you can’t just wait for free time to come to you, you have to make it happen. And the more I find myself letting go, the easier each day becomes. I’m starting to remember the carefree Bryan that wandered the halls of Southgate at ungodly hours of the night looking for a good conversation.
But as carefree as that Bryan was, he should have just gone to bed. My grades aren’t the greatest, and my med school future could very well be in jeopardy with another low mark. But my former self had the right idea. After taking second-semester organic chemistry at lightning speed this Summer, I realized that my capabilities are far from endless. I need people to get me through the tough times, and lately I’ve been foregoing the relationships I have had with the people that keep my sanity intact.
I’m just trying to make the best of what I’ve got. And now, more than ever, do I want the people I put on the back burner to come into my life again. So to those people, I say to you this:
I miss you. I’m free any time of the day—let’s do coffee sometime.
Bryan Somaiah is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs every other Thursday. Send Bryan a message on Twitter @BSomaiahChron.