Workaholics Anonymous

by Jamie Ballard, Staff Writer

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This week, are you:

  1. A) Studying for your classes,
  2. B) Working part time
  3. C) Staying active in your student organization of choice
  4. D) All of the above?

My pick is D).I am a full-time student, working two jobs and staying active in a few student organizations. And I’m far from alone. Nearly any college student you talk to at San Diego State will tell you that they’re busy — really busy. They might be involved in Greek Life or Associated Students, they might be studying and working nonstop to maintain that 4.0 GPA; or they might be working multiple jobs to pay their tuition.

Influenced by an increasingly hectic world, we tell ourselves that being busy is good, being idle is bad.

But is that correct? In some cases, I’d argue that it is: after all, being a productive and active student is better than being an apathetic and slothful one. But I think that it’s often taken too far. Being involved in one organization isn’t enough, you have to join three. If you aren’t up until 2 a.m. studying, you aren’t trying hard enough. And to bring in the social aspect, if you aren’t partying on the weekends, you aren’t “making the most of your college experience.”

I don’t think that this rise in overwhelming activity and the rising rates of depression and anxiety among college students is a mere coincidence.

We glorify being busy. In a way, I think we relish telling other people how insanely busy we are because it means that we must be important and our lives must mean something. If we’re busy achieving something, at least we aren’t totally failing, right? And there’s just a tinge of pride in your voice when you tell someone “I can’t, sorry, I’m just too busy tonight.” (Damn right I’m busy with all my important things to do!) It’s a complaint that feels good.

I freely admit that I fall into this camp. While I like telling other people how busy I am, I hate feeling obligated to be doing something all the time. Though I actually am lucky enough to have two jobs that I really enjoy, and manageable classes, stress adds up. I, and many of my peers, feel overwhelmed and tired much of the time. So what’s a college student to do? Grin and bear it? Sob deeply? Call mom?

I tend to go with the last option. I call my mother and complain, because she has to love me anyway. Her advice is to cut back on something. While I tell her “I can’t do that, Mom!” I’ll admit now that she is right.  While some activities are obligatory, sometimes you can give an extra activity up. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to quit something without an insane amount of guilt or flip-flopping. But as a survivor of quitting an optional activity, let me tell you: it’s worth it. That club or team or volunteer panel will go on without you. It will probably be there when or if your schedule calms down. And those extra few hours a week can be heavenly.

Idleness, down time, lazy day, whatever you call it ­— it’s important to your mental health. Without it, some students might struggle with severe anxiety, depression, panic or stress. Sometimes, you have to take time, curl up with some popcorn, binge-watch a series on Netflix, and not feel bad about it.

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