Not being stressed stresses me out
Taking a step back to evaluate why I micromanage my own schedule
The other day, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. I washed my hair, put on a French-ish red blouse and a black miniskirt, packed my backpack with two sheets of printer paper and a pair of heels, and headed over to Next Dining. After grabbing food, I sat down to my 7.06 notebook, my two sheets of printer paper, and my laptop. At 8:30 a.m., I had exactly one hour to write my four-faced cheat sheet and walk to Walker for my midterm. Needless to say, I did not finish my cheat sheet. After the midterm, I had an hour to print my script, memorize my lines in a 5-minute skit as the titular character of Amélie, and get to my French class at Harvard. Needless to say, I did not memorize my lines. Then I returned to Stata for 9.00 lecture, for which, needless to say, I had not done the textbook reading.
With my classes over for the day at 3:30 p.m., I headed to my UROP, which pretty much was me trying to centrifuge a sample through an Amicon for two hours to no avail. Deciding to wait until the next day, I headed over to McCormick to help run ADT’s first study break of the semester (soufflé pancakes!). After an hour and a half, I ran home to set up for a New House MedLinks study break. I wasn’t going to be home when the event started, so I needed to pre-plan my section (the mug raffle). Then, with minutes until 7:00 p.m., I walked as fast as I could to Lobby 13 for ballroom practice. I emerged at 9:30 p.m. having learned some cool facts about my posture and my arms. Heading home, my last task was to host the second half of the MedLinks event. Finally, at 11:00 p.m., everything was squared away, and I was ready to start my pset and readings.
That was an exhausting day. I recently went to an MD-PhD panel where one of the admissions officers said reading the applicants’ schedules often tires him out. But I schedule myself so strictly for a reason: I don’t do well with loads of unstructured time. If I had four hours to do nothing but read one paper, I would probably not finish. There would be YouTube videos watched, random conversations had, and food eaten, but not even half the reading done.
I’m uncomfortable with free time, because I’ve been trained to think that it’s unproductive. In a capitalist society where there’s a linear correlation between time and money, I can’t help but feel the need to keep going, all the time. I schedule my classes on Firehose in blocks because it’s more efficient than spacing them out and wasting every other hour. If I’m not dead tired at the end of the day, it only means I haven’t done as much as I could have.
I’ve often wondered what would happen if I didn’t spend all my time doing something or another. Ultimately, I generate a list of excuses to keep doing what I’m doing, ranging from wholesome (I love the communities I’m in) to logical (I won’t have the chance to do this later in life) to more insidious (Everyone else is doing everything too, or it will seem like I didn’t take full advantage of the opportunities presented to me).
There’s definitely a hint of greed and pride hidden in there. I want to participate in all of these activities, I want to be capable of participating in them, and most worryingly, I want to tell other people that I participate in them. No matter how I look at it, it boils down to a rat race towards an uncertain future.
With our impending doom, I guess this entire article is null. I am stressed. And it is still stressing me out. I love you all, and I’ll hopefully see you soon.