ALBORNOZ: Striking a Mindful Balance
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 01:09
It’s a universally acknowledged truth that a student in possession of too little time and too much work must be in need of a long break. Last week, for example, I had about 150 pages of “Pride and Prejudice” due the next day and my clock read 1:36 a.m. How did I get there?
A better question: Why was I checking Facebook? My procrastination problem is self-diagnosed, but it is by no means inaccurate. As I write this out, I feel ashamed and slightly vulnerable, but I also know I am not alone in this dilemma. Understanding and dealing with this issue has been tricky, but I also know that it is worth coming to terms with.
When I was younger, my parents would congratulate me when I would bring home a test with a high mark on it. Then, in the same breath, they would also ask why I didn’t get a perfect score. The underlying message wasn’t, “You’re not good enough,” however, but rather “you are capable of more.” This was my earliest impetus to strive for success — I believed that if I reached the highest levels of my capability, I was filling out the shape of my own soul.
At Leo’s last week, my friends and I went from talking about the quality of the chicken fingers to a thoughtful discussion about C.S. Lewis. Our conversation, begun around the plastic Leo’s table, continued into an email exchange that is still thriving in my inbox. The passion and drive of my friends and peers here motivates me more than something less intellectually valuable, such as an episode of “Breaking Bad,” ever could. But sometimes I feel like I am not living up to that potential because I prefer the instant gratifications of a distraction like television to writing essays or building my resume. In these moments, am I really trying to be better?
To be honest, while an episode of “Breaking Bad” is a welcome treat in my schedule, I don’t feel most alive in these times of distraction, no matter how much that last episode got my heart racing. On the other hand, it is certainly not in moments where my eyes glaze over a philosophy text on the first floor of Lau that I feel most alive, either. I believe we must find a balance between these two sides and an active engagement with the experiences embedded within each.
I have often felt myself grow more as a person while relaxing on a friend’s couch than sitting up straight at a desk in White-Gravenor. But I have also come to life in that same desk in White-Gravenor during a lecture by one of my favorite Jesuits about moral suffering and Christ’s love for us. I cried during the first Mass I attended in Dahlgren Chapel when Fr. Ryan Maher, S.J., spoke about how forming connections here would make Georgetown our home. I feel energized when I run into people on campus, and they take the time to say hello. As I stand in the tide of these seemingly conflicting forces, I, like many of us here, aim to be social, intellectual, involved, happy, carefree, diligent and future oriented, all within the boundaries of my 5-foot-6 frame.
I procrastinate to disengage from the things I preemptively assume will not be exciting or stimulating to me. Sometimes, I push off the task at hand to liberate my mind if that task seems daunting. It has become a habit, and not one that I am necessarily proud of; I feel a greater sense of pride when I complete my work carefully and participate actively.
The problem of procrastination is that it deflects light from our potential to discover meaning behind our everyday routine. When we allow ourselves to indulge in the activity of mind and spirit that Georgetown so readily nourishes and fosters, we are more wholly fulfilled. In these times, we find both that we are good enough and that we’re still capable of so much more.
Bebe Albornoz is a senior in the College. Through the Hoya Lens appears every other Tuesday.