In elementary school, my parents used to reward my brother and me for every A we brought home on our report cards. I always worked extra hard on my spelling tests and multiplication tables so that I could bring home a report card o’ vowels, which might equate to a new stuffed animal or maybe the latest Mario game for my stellar pink GameBoy advance. Let’s just say that ever since I was little, I’ve taken a bit of a Rory Gilmore approach to school.
In other words, I’m well acquainted with the library, my notebooks get a lot of action, and I can make a mean study guide, let me tell ya.
School is very important to me as I think it should be to everyone who gets the chance to go to college. I make sure my homework is on point to the last detail before I submit it. I always study until I know the material like I know the pledge of allegiance or the lyrics to Ignition (the Remix). When I get good grades, I feel satisfied. You get what you give, right? But it never dawned on me until recently that maybe I give a little more than I need to.
Maybe there is such a thing as over studying.
How did I come to this conclusion, you ask? Well, I’m abroad this semester in Italy, the glorious land of fashion and pasta. There is so much to see and do, which is great, but the thing is that school still exists over here. Weird right?
After the first few weeks, I was frustrated because I felt like I was missing out on the experience of being in a foreign country. I was married to my classes. I spent so much time doing school work when I wanted to be out exploring museums and getting on a first name basis with the gelato man. And then I thought back to when I was at school in the states and realized that I do the same thing there. I spend so much time and energy studying, editing, and knocking out assignments in advance that I don’t leave myself time to get out and be a tourist in my own college town.
Now don’t get me wrong, studying is important. But so is walking down different streets, trying new restaurants, and actually going into the museum you wonder about as you pass by every day. I think the term they use for that stuff is living.
The big issue I have -and if you’re a Rory Gilmore type I’m sure you can relate- is finding balance.
So my fellow school-a-holics, here’s what I’m proposing.
Set yourself a time limit each day for how long you’re going to work on homework. Then stop. Like really stop. If you’re a perfectionist when it comes to school, it can be difficult to tear yourself away from an assignment before it’s of a “first-rate, ship shape, hang that on the fridge” quality. But that’s exactly how the days end up slipping away from you. Setting a time limit will help you work a little more efficiently and also give you a more balanced routine.
Be mindful of how much time and effort you put into assignments and projects that aren’t going to make or break your grade. As kids, we were taught to always give everything 100 percent of our effort. Hmm. I think it’s important to do your best, absolutely. But it makes more sense to save your laser focus, nit-picky energy for a midterm or the presentation that’s worth a third of your grade, than say, a write up on the week’s readings. Work smart, not hard.
Before each week think of something you’d like to do just for pure fun. And then go do it without making excuses. Stop for a minute and think of an activity you always say you want to do but never quite get around to doing. Whether it’s trying the Japanese place you pass by on the way to class, a local art gallery you’ve been wanting to explore, or the hiking trails you’ve been meaning to get to, write it on your agenda in pen (risky!) and don’t cancel on yourself. Give yourself time for a weekly adventure.
And here’s the big kicker. Remember to let yourself have some fun even when you have a full agenda.
Balance is a bitch, but it’s probably the most important skill you can hone in your lifetime. Yes, school is important. Yes, putting effort into your classes is essential. Yes, Rory Gilmore has a stellar resumé and a notably vast knowledge of classic literature.
But what’s life without dimension and a little fun?
You can get A’s and get pizza with your friends on a school night. You can work on your fitness and be fit for your physics exam. You can join a club, go to the club, and clobber your psych test.
Hit the books, babe. But make sure you hit the opening of the new play you’ve been dying to see as well. You’re a Lala girl. You’ve got this.