Dear Emerson students, you’re not that busy

by Hayden Wright / Beacon Staff • February 20, 2013

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The all-too familiar full schedule.
The all-too familiar full schedule.

In case you haven’t heard, Emerson students are busy. 

This adjective has wormed its way into the fabric of our collective identity as markedly as “LGBT-friendly” and “hipstery.” We self-define by the amount of heavy lifting in our lives, falling into various categories it would feel redundant to list. 

But, for the ladies and gentlemen all the way in the back: class, theses, a newspaper, glossy magazines, lit magazines, radio stations, TV stations, photo shoots, rehearsals, internships, jobs, work study, athletics, social lives, the gym, and perhaps Greek life. We build our brands by having a lot on our plates. 

As such, Beacon columnists have documented the plight of the busy Emerson student for as long as I can remember. We pat ourselves on the back incessantly for our ability to juggle. We one-up. We put on shows of agony for the crushing busy ness in our lives. 

At some point, the beginning of the semester ended, and student schedules reached their cruising altitudes. The start of things has long passed. With it, the small talk changed. “How was your break?” has morphed into a simple, “how’s it going?” 

Always the emphatic answer at Emerson: “So busy.” I’ve been guilty of it, too. Color me hypocritical. 

With all due respect, I don’t care how busy you are. I empathize, but I don’t care. I don’t care that you haven’t eaten because your back-to-back classes and meetings have prevented you from spending five minutes waiting in line at Boloco. I also don’t believe you, because there’s always time for Boloco on campus. I don’t care that you’re on your fifth cup of coffee on account of being swamped.

If this were simply commiseration, I wouldn’t take issue. But at a college that values constant activity, I find that perpetual frenzy really disingenuous. If being scheduled and booked from here to eternity is a measure of success, it stands to reason that students would put on Daniel Day-Lewis displays of busyness to keep up. It’s obvious what we’re trying to prove, and we hear each other loud and clear. 

Furthermore, fixating on how we use and abuse our time turns our attention away from the ways we waste it. Perennial midterm Facebook statuses about Netflix, red wine, and procrastination show that Emerson students aren’t always diligent worker bees buzzing around the library and Student Activities Center. 

We’re lucky that we do have time to kick back — to upload Instagram snaps of delightful sushi rolls, skim Perez Hilton or the Daily Mail, and idly stalk high school friends on Facebook. Before we know it, warm weather will have most of the student body relaxing and day-drinking on the Common. Let’s stop acting as if the weight of our responsibilities sets us apart from, say, people with actual problems — especially the people among us with actual problems. A large part of our collective whining is performance. 

The point is, you’re probably not overwhelmed. In fact, you likely have it more or less together, and are excited about a large portion of your responsibilities. There are times in every semester when everyone is allowed to be truly overcome, when all-nighters are justified and looking like you need a hug is appropriate. We ought to save the “busy” chatter for when there actually aren’t enough hours in the day. 

That stock answer to “how’s it going?” serves as a placeholder for nothing. As a result, we miss out on some interesting conversations. Lots of what keeps us occupied is work that stimulates us and gives our lives at Emerson meaning. It’s what positions us in this community, as journalists, actors, politicos, or SGA representatives. We elect to be busy because we love what we do and find rewarding ways to express our passion on a regular basis. 

With that in mind, let’s stop pretending to be martyrs to our schedules.