A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
This article addresses all students, those who are succeeding in their studies and those who are struggling through difficulties and failures. Luckily enough, you are all good in the end.
Being full-time students does not allow us to actually stop for a moment. If you think about it, you know that even in your day off what you really do is thinking about your next duty on schedule, your next assignment or paper to submit. I am not going to go too much around it, university life is neither easy or fair for most of us. We need to keep up our work and at a furious pace, because we are required to, because of rules and because nobody really wants to lose money or time, or really not everybody can afford to. Honestly, being a student is a gift that not everybody can receive. We shall not forget how lucky we are to be able to study, to do research and grow in an academic environment. However, and here is the heart of the issue, sometimes it would be good to remember that most of us are youngsters from the 17 to 25 years old. This is a critical phase of our life, and I know that I speak for many when I say that it is easy to lose yourself.
How many young adults enter a study and realize that what they are currently studying is not what they actually like? How many of those then feel pressured to rush into something else and be fearful of having already ‘lost’ a year? How many successful students with wonderful GPA’s and great references end up losing motivation due to rushed decisions and time-pressure? Do you remember the last time you actually felt free of doing anything? I mean really, a day that you fully dedicated to the importance of doing nothing and haven’t felt bad because of it? When was the last time you felt able to follow your true passion? And, if study related, how much were you really able to work on it the way you wanted?
This is not some sort of idealistic article where I talk about fighting against the system or be withdrawn and escape from reality to avoid the duties that student life and society obliges us to. However, my dear friends, I want to remark the importance of taking a break.
Taking a break, pause, calm before the storm, halftime in sports, whatever you’d like to call it. Many think that being lazy, giving yourself time, breathe, are easy things to do. Many underestimate the benefits of stopping for a moment before proceeding. Nobody is really going to tell you ‘Hey, would you like some time off?’, so you have to get it yourself.
Supposedly, you are a student who likes his program. Hopefully, you are taking good grades and enjoying your textbooks and your faculty environment. Or maybe you don’t like your program, maybe it is a bad fit for you, and you are thinking about whether continuing this path or choosing another. Maybe you dislike your faculty environment, the way programs are offered and you cannot get enough inventive to accordingly do university work. Really there is no distinction, in both cases, you need to do the following: sit down, take all of this, your life, your goals, your aspirations. Reflect on your failures, study your successes. Take some real time to study yourself (and this, dear friends is probably the most important lesson I learned in my university career up to now). Only when you clear your mind out of noise and disturbances you will be able to make proper decisions and choose an optimal and most satisfying path for yourself. What can you achieve? What are your passions? How do you think you can reach or get near to them? How can you deal at best with failures and handle the pressure of success? These are all very important questions that you can use as a tool to help yourself define your way.
You can do anything you really want, starting where you are, but if you do not take the time to realize what you already have, if you do not optimally understand how to work at best with your qualities, how is it meaningful for you?
We are taught that in life we need a job, the job. The money, oh that is important. Success, that’s all that matters. Well, I hope that you, dear friends who are wasting time reading this pain of an article that I am writing, already have understood that you cannot always get what you want, when you want, and you cannot always be happy, successful and most of all serene. You simply can’t. Then, the real game changer is understanding how powerful and useful it is to be patient. Something it is not achievable at the moment or in the near future? Fine, take that as something to build on another project. But how? Well, it is only when you sit down and breathe that your mind is able to explore options and lead you to what you really like or desirably aim to.
There is a fine line between success and failure, everything and nothing. I guess that if you would be able to stand there, on that line, interchanging experience and knowledge from both sides, well you probably will be great in life. But you need to be patient. You need to wait. And even when you are rushing in something, doing a thousand things a day, especially when you feel that you completely lost track of yourself, there is that moment, when you are on your couch (I hope you have a couch, couches are great), that you fully can and have to dedicate time to yourself.
It is in that very moment, when you really enjoy a break, when you purely and selfishly dedicate yourself to nothing that you will be able to plan, dream, do everything you want and maybe get closer to perceive the unbearable lightness of being.
Said by somebody who is anyway very far from it, but hopefully aims to it.