Author: Rachel Stewart ’16
It’s been less than a month since classes have started, but when I walked into my first lecture of the week last Monday, my Econ professor proudly announced that the practice exams for next week’s midterm were now available online.
Ah, midterms. For some reason, they begin here about a month after classes start and often don’t end (for the most unlucky students) until reading days. Once they start up, I feel like the “busy” competition between students on campus kicks into action: “Oh, I’ll try to make it tonight, but I have two meetings, a conference to prepare for, a midterm next week, and two papers! And I have OCR interviews. Ugh, it’s just so much to do” or “I’m SO busy tonight, I have a Skype interview at 9PM and then meetings until 1AM and then I have to study for finance.”
Penn students are the most self-motivated and disciplined group of 20-year-olds I have ever met. They do amazing work, tackle problems that even grown adults can’t solve, and start NGOs and businesses even before getting a diploma. All of this comes with an insane amount of pressure to be “busy” at all time of all hours of the day. The question that has been floating around campus these past few weeks, however, is: when is enough enough?
Enough is when you start falling asleep in class because you were up late last night arguing with the e-board of your club about the next event. Enough is when you have to skip class for a club or sorority/fraternity commitment, and then you do poorly on the next exam. Enough is when you’ve gone out for brunch three times in the past month and don’t think you (or your wallet) can handle another cinnamon bun cream cheese stuffed French toast. The secret to enough is that you have the power to define it.
I’ve come to love Penn and I know most students that go here do too, but we can drive ourselves and each other crazy. My hope is that the tragedies of this semester awaken students to define “enough” for themselves more readily, more proudly, and more actively.