Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Stressing the importance of living life

There are two philosophies that Whitman students (and really all college students) live their lives by. Well, three, actually. We choose either to get our money’s worth or to live our lives. (Some opt for a third lifestyle: Perpetual partying and disregard for schoolwork, which squanders both one’s tuition and four years of one’s life.)

The first two are highly desirable and, unfortunately, in direct conflict. We’re constantly presented with choices that we heard about from that speaker during the first week of freshman year and from the Academic Resource Center after getting D-slips. Remember these? They’re choices like “frisbee golf or Psychology reading,” “exercising or studying for a quiz,” “writing a draft for that paper or taking a nap.”
Fundamentally, we’re choosing between the satisfaction of knowing that we’re milking Whitman College for all it’s worth and the satisfaction of living our lives.

A few weeks ago, on this page, Sophie Johnson proclaimed, “Stress is dead.” For the most part she was right; it is dead, but it comes back to life when we feel the pressure to get our $40,000’s worth out of Whitman. And that pressure is really there; going to an expensive liberal arts college like Whitman makes me feel overprivileged. To ward off such guilt, we try to get as much out of it as we can.

We take those challenging (but more interesting) classes, we take on more activities, join clubs, volunteer. We do all this because we want to have the quintessential college experience because by golly, we’re paying for it. We’re paying a lot.

But you’ve got to live your life, too. Right? Part of the reason we go to such an expensive liberal arts college is its potential to bring about personal growth and development. Studying cooped up in the library for four years isn’t going to help anyone to grow personally. Trying too hard effectively undermines our attempts to fully utilize Whitman.

Additionally, I don’t know if even a really stellar education from Whitman is worth four years of miserable, backbreaking work. Life is too short; four years is more than you think. If you make it to 80, four years is one twentieth of your life: that’s too much time to be pulling your hair out constantly.

Still, I struggle trying to reconcile both forces. I try to satisfy both my guilt for not studying enough and my need to spend a few hours per day outside the library.

For now, the part of me that wants to live my life has won. I’m writing this from Seattle, where I’ve come for the weekend despite the massive amount of work I should be accomplishing.

I’m neglecting the two midterms and two papers that I have next week. Next week will be my busiest of the entire semester, and I picked this weekend to come to Seattle. Why? To see the Seattle Symphony Orchestra play Mozart’s requiem. I almost didn’t come: and I love Mozart’s requiem. I came so close to letting such an opportunity get away from me because if I screw up this week, my GPA will suck, and if that happens,

I won’t be able to go to graduate school.

Now, I’m just as sick of listening to people whine about their uniquely frustrating academic problems as I probably made you just now. I’m not trying to impress you. My point is that I almost let a great opportunity slip away because it could have interfered with my academics.

Academics just aren’t that important. But it is hard to just say “no” to over stressing. Sometimes what it takes is a little daring, and a “things will
work themselves out” attitude.

I was inspired by the Testostertones’ performance in the library foyer last Wednesday night. At 11 p.m., the harmonic sounds of a cappella singing reached my ears through the silence of the reading room. It was like a revolution over studying. An entire library of students worrying and stressing was forced to stop. Forced. Forced to stop studying and to listen to really good a cappella music.

The crazy thing is that the whole time, I was just waiting for someone to stop them. I felt like some sort of authority figure would have to step in and speak for all the students who were annoyed because they couldn’t continue to work and stress out for those 20 minutes. No one did, and I was proud; we at Whitman seem to understand the importance of fun.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *