More Smiles, Less Stress

I have found – and I’m sure that many others would agree – that Colgate is intense, for lack of a better word. I don’t mean to complain or be ungrateful about being a student here, but it can definitely be a tad overwhelming at times. Maybe it’s just my somewhat anxious personality, but every second of every day seems jam-packed, like if you take a second to take a break and breathe you might miss out on something or forget to do something important. Most of the time, there aren’t enough hours in a day to even complete all of the things that I set out to do. The idea – from a motivational quote that was once shared with me – that “you have the same number of hours in a day as Beyoncé” just seems like a bold-faced lie.

Sometimes, running around frantically and trying to get everything done as quickly as possible, I’m reminded of a moment from sixth-grade. The fact alone that something I’m doing today brings back memories of my middle school self should probably be enough of an indication that I need to change. Back in 6th grade, one of the new students in my class sat next to me, and while I was doing work one day, she passed me notes with drawings of robots on them that said “you are a robot.” I didn’t understand at the time that this was probably an insult, not a compliment, but I definitely get it now. She picked up on my incessant need to constantly be doing something years before I came here and realized how much it had affected my life.

In one of my classes this semester, we have been talking about the idea that we value productivity and efficiency in our society, and we forget about other important things, like sleep. We read a chapter from a book about how we have come to see things such as sleep as a waste of time. Recently, one instance in which I was worried about wasting time was when I reserved a Zipcar so that I could make a quick run to Kinney’s and Price Chopper. I figured this would be the best way to save time – after all, who has time to wait for the cruiser? So I walked down the hill from Drake, relieved to see that the car didn’t have too much snow on it. However, when I tried to open the car, the doors wouldn’t open, and I soon came to realize (after an embarrassing call to customer service) that I had, in fact, reserved the car for 10 p.m., instead of 10 a.m.

Frustrated by this waste of time, I walked furiously back up the hill. However, my anger soon subsided when some random stranger smiled at me. This small, insignificant gesture from some person that I probably could not identify, made me realize that I should stop being so self-absorbed and concentrated on only getting things done and appreciate some of the little things that happen on this campus. It’s weird when you step back and realize that you haven’t taken the time to know or even smile at the many people around you, even though you may see them every day.

Okay, so where am I going with this? While I don’t think that this feeling of constantly needing to get things done is going to disappear anytime soon, it is good to know that there is hope that we don’t have to be so distant from other people and focused all of the time. So thank you, random strangers of Colgate, who go out of your way to smile or say hi to someone you don’t know, who talk to the person next to you in class when he or she appears to be overwhelmed. You’re the ones that remind us that it’s okay to be a living, breathing human on this campus and not so mechanical all of the time. Maybe, just maybe, we could use a few more smiles on this campus to jar people out of their “robotic” lives, even if it is just for a fleeting moment.