Fellow students: when you start the new semester, read outlines on the amount of work required for each course and begin to gauge your stress levels, consider the concept of being too busy.
The debate about busyness is not new. Tim Kreider wrote an article for the New York Times entitled “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” Kreider challenges the present-day concept of busyness, asserting that those who claim busyness do so because it gives them a sense of importance. In reality, he argues, those who make themselves busy miss out on personal relationships and interests, the most fulfilling aspects of life.
The problem with Kreider’s argument is that a busy individual could actually be occupied with what is important to them, like spending time with friends and family. Look at the number of friends people have on Facebook. The number of individuals we maintain relationships with (or attempt to) grows regularly, unless you happen to be one of those savvy people who wisely limits their friend count. But according to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the highest number of meaningful friendships humans can maintain is 150. The Internet, the diasporic nature of the workplace and accessibility of international travel has allowed us to make wider and more numerous connections. Although these possibilities broaden our horizons, they place strains on the long-term relationships we plan on keeping.
To succeed in the workforce, students often feel pressured to take on extra-curriculars beyond weekend drinking with our growing social networks. We are continually nagged to build up our resumes. There are causes out there that each of us are passionate about and should take the time to invest ourselves in. Don’t resort to resume padding volunteerism or overdriven work experiences — they may not help you out in the work place as much as you think. Instead, we should make an effort to put ourselves out there socially.
Consider that most jobs are often posted internally first. We have all heard of someone getting a job through a friend or family connection. Between 60 to 80 per cent of work is found through networking. So go ahead, share a pitcher of beer with a friend or your weird uncle who owns a construction company. Schmooze if you have to. Choosing to build the relationships that you find important and meaningful will more likely lead to success than accumulating academic or community accolades.
Most university students will be busy. Unlike Kreider, I don’t think most of us use it as an excuse to feel important — I think we feel like we make ourselves busy because we should be busy. Stressful busyness makes people feel emotionally and physically degraded, not self-important. We force ourselves to study because we’ve been taught that education is necessary for an enriched life. And feeling forced sucks.
We don’t need to hashtag the world with #yolo or #yoyo but there are reasons these sentiments exist. There are reasons for the corny quotations plastered over Facebook cover photos about living life to the fullest. Maybe the culture of busyness is a mindless product of the accelerated lifestyles our generation has become accustomed to or maybe it’s recognition that living and dying together means squeezing out every last drop.