To quote Albert Einstein: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” But Einstein was indeed a self-motivated man, driven by his thirst for knowledge and desire to invent. Self-motivation is a fundamental aspect of Duke students, and it is an essential skill in achieving success in such a competitive environment. But by the same token, maintaining healthy relationships with others is just as important, in nearly all aspects of life.
Unfortunately, I recently found myself beginning to lose touch with this reality.
Last semester, I took my self-motivation to the absolute extreme. The aspect that most epitomized my behavior at the time was my commitment as a columnist for The Chronicle. I became an absolute perfectionist with my writing—before I would even consider submitting my work for preliminary edits, it had to be nothing short of perfection. On average, I clocked in approximately 8-10 hours per column. Unsurprisingly, the time spent writing my last article proved to be no different.
This perfectionist attitude bled into my academic life. The degree of emphasis I placed on every assignment was absurd—I no longer went to the gym, I wasted precious hours of sleep, and, most problematic, I stopped spending time with the people that mattered.
The fact that meeting simple deadlines caused me so much grief is simply absurd. It’s great that I can now reflect on my past mistakes and remedy them for the future, but this destructive behavior is not healthy in the long run. This semester is about to get real; next week, my journey into the world of becoming an EMT begins. And this has made me realize that time is a precious resource I can no longer take for granted.
Don’t get me wrong, writing for The Chronicle is a worthwhile experience, as are my other endeavors. But it became an enormous time sink. And let’s be honest, as college students, we don’t exactly use all of our time constructively. When compounded with the flawed logic of my go-getter self, my med school dreams felt like they were continuing to drift away, and my well-being began to deteriorate.
What I really needed was a new perspective. This semester, my fraternity played a crucial part in helping me pick up the pieces of the life I seemed to have dismantled. My stress-related symptoms have been cured by a new-and-improved workout regimen, a newly adopted diurnal state of being and a chin that boasts a ruggedly awesome beard.
Joining Sigma Chi has placed me among the ranks of thousands of truly honorable men, and I am eternally grateful for what the brothers of my chapter have done for me. I should have realized this sooner—that my fraternity is indeed the link between my Duke experience and true happiness. This brotherhood has transformed me into a better man, and I will continue to strive towards excellence.
Fraternity rush was quite possibly one of the best times of my life, and I had the pleasure of reliving those awesome memories this year. The past few weeks rekindled my appreciation for my fellow brothers, and I had a great time—we definitely killed it this year. Although I may be exhausted now, I am excited for our new members and for the lifelong memories they will be making. It’s easy to live life for yourself, but joining a fraternity is a once in a lifetime experience that will change the way you think for the better.
My fraternity, loved ones and God have held an enormous role in shaping me into the person I am today. Sometimes it’s hard to keep an open mind, especially for me. But vulnerability is not a vice, and I’ve learned that, oftentimes, it’s reassuring to put faith into something other than myself. I want my life to be an exemplary one—one that is reflective of the unconditional love I have been blessed with. It warms my heart to know that a little bit of faith goes a long way.
Bryan Somaiah is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs every other Friday. Send Bryan a message on Twitter @BSomaiahChron.