If there ever was a time that I would consider myself a full-time student, it would be this semester. And, by full-time, I mean all the time. Unfortunately, starting next week, my course load will be getting a bit lighter. I must say, though, that it’s a relief to finally be making a pit stop from the struggle bus.
Things have definitely been going in fast forward this past year. My undergraduate career is nearly half over, and it’s showing no signs of slowing its pace. Life is indeed a marathon, but these past two semesters, I have been treating it like a sprint. I feel like I’ve blinded myself to reality and went far beyond the capabilities of any sane human being.
This semester, I’ve been the busiest person I know. Whether this phenomenon was contrived or not is beyond me, but my lackluster performance should speak on my behalf. I’m happy to be out of this mess, that’s for certain. But on the other hand, it hurts to know you put forth your best efforts and, yet, they weren’t enough.
All parts of the equation were there—the passion, the resources and the support—but the one aspect that was lacking was the time. Being a full-time student is no small commitment, especially in the environment that Duke provides us. Every day we are challenged to improve ourselves and expand our horizons beyond the visible spectrum. Our purpose here is to achieve success. Indeed, it is here that we build ourselves into marketable candidates for providing monetarily-compensated contributions to society.
Success can be measured by a variety of metrics. But no matter how rewarding the payout may be, there is no substitute for personal well-being. Generally speaking, we, as students, are fairly autonomous, and I believe that the freedoms we are given are an absolute privilege—something that I often take for granted. With every opportunity comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes consequence.
For most of my Duke career, consequence meant taking a toll on my body and mind. Clutching to every moment as if it were my last, I treasure every moment spent here with my peers. I realize now, however, that there are times when you have to loosen your grip: Everything has a time and place. Of the 24 hours in the day, the number of hours available to me would almost never exceed single digits. Not only is this insufficient for completing work for five classes, but these calculations also assume I sleep six hours at most. Manageable, yes, but is it sustainable?
Of course not. Last semester, I pushed myself to the absolute limit, and, to be honest, my living conditions were equally as unforgiving. This time around, I tried to compensate for the circumstances, but no conflict was ever met with a resounding resolution. I set a standard for myself that I can never attain. My ambitions were ambitious and my zeal overzealous. I set myself up for disaster: While the structure was sound, the foundation simply would not hold. I hit the breaking point.
I feel like my own perception was skewed by my personal dissatisfaction. I am not, by any means, the brightest student on this campus, but I am humbled time and again by the distinction that my peers bestow unto themselves, through their successes and accomplishments. My own perceived inadequacies, in light of this, have inspired me to pursue a vision that was simply out of my reach.
Every experience is one to learn from, and this is no different than the others. I have time now to see to it that my future endeavors reap bountiful rewards and make the vision I see for myself a reality. With high hopes and healthy spirits, cheers to another great couple of years!
Bryan Somaiah is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs every other Friday. Send Bryan a message on Twitter @BSomaiahChron.