This I Believe

William - Chesapeake, Virginia
Entered on November 7, 2006

Going to Class With a Hangover

Youth is no longer simply wasted on the young. It is surrendered by the young, prostituted by the young, in order to achieve “greatness.” College students are expected (and sometimes forced) to forego all vestiges of youth in the name of achievement and success. We are told from almost birth that we are nothing without our college degrees; we must grasp at this golden ring with no regard for nothing else.

But must we sacrifice our youth in the name of success? I don’t think so. I see thousands of students, at schools across Virginia and beyond, who lock themselves in the Shawshank of the dorm room, toiling away. Turning out English papers like prisoners stamp out license plates, they emerge only to scurry across campus to take a chemistry test or turn in a statistics project. Pasty and paunchy, they drag around their cumbersome textbooks from class to class, eyes heavy-lidded with perpetual lack of sleep.

I know their plight. I used to be one of the collegiate zombies, staring out the window listlessly as the world went by. I have friends who stay up until Apollo hops in his chariot, blearily staring at the computer screen, praying for a flash of inspiration so they can get three inadequate hours of sleep.

It seems to me that these people have missed the point, like I once did. I believe college should be complete preparation for the “real world.” In addition to burying oneself in math, science, or English, one should learn (and practice) how to have fun. That is why I, unlike many of my friends both at my school and other colleges around the country, make it a daily goal to do something personally satisfying, in addition to finishing my schoolwork.

I do my best to work hard and play hard, and to keep my priorities straight. Schoolwork comes first, and after I’m finished with my paper or my project I balance it out with something fun. Whether I go to the driving range to hit a few balls after history class, have a Crown on the rocks with friends on the weekends, or sit around the house Sundays enjoying football and NASCAR, I always try to do something because that has no purpose other than entertainment.

Some may call this behavior cavalier and reckless. To this, I ask which is more reckless: staying up all night studying for an exam, getting three hours of sleep in the process, or having Mexican for dinner with friends, drinking a margarita, and going home and getting a full eight hours of sleep? You decide.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that students shirk their academic responsibilities in the name of merrymaking. What I am advocating, what I believe in, is a balance. A balance between work and play; between studying and partying. If I have an English paper due or a geography test the next day, I stay home and do it. If not, look out. It may seem counter-intuitive, but going to class with a mild hangover is, to me, more rewarding than going to class burned out and frazzled and red-eyed, like millions of college students in America do every day.