When a semester’s workload hits you as hard as this one has been hitting me, you have to give up some things. TV, gym time, sleep—I’ve had no trouble exchanging a few of them for getting work done. But one thing has, to my surprise, proved to be necessary to my success and happiness: human interaction.
As much as I’ve tried to play it off or convince myself that I can operate totally independently from everyone around me, I’ve realized that I need people to get by. During my busiest weeks I never mourned the loss of an episode of The Mindy Project or yoga class. I didn’t feel truly busy or overwhelmed until I stopped talking to people. It was the days that I decided to shut myself up in my room, skip meals, and leave texts unanswered that were the hardest. And on some of those days that hung heavily over me, when I trudged from task to task wondering why I was so miserable, a friend would manage to catch me while I was dashing off somewhere and exchange more than a quick hello. As I walked away smiling, it would hit me that me that I was upset because I hadn’t talked to anyone. Being alone made my work seem much more daunting than it actually was, and talking with a friend felt like someone had hit the reset button or zeroed me back to equilibrium (is that the right way to say it? I haven’t taken a science class in a while). Once this happened a few (dozen) times, I finally accepted that talking to people is a pastime I can’t give up.
So now when I’m elbows deep in essays, job applications, and reading assignments, I allow myself to indulge in conversation. I stop to ask the friend I spotted at a café table on my way to a study room how they’re doing. I do my homework outside of my room, so I can see that there’s more to my life than my desk and my textbooks. I let myself spare an hour to eat a meal with a friend every now and then, and leave my work outside the dining hall. Do these things take time away from my work? Of course. But I’ve realized that ultimately, finishing every assignment due from now until May without talking to anybody would be worse than staying up until 3 a.m. finishing an assignment after giggling over Gawker articles with my roommate.
So, friends, take note: I need you more than I need Netflix—maybe more than I need an A.