November 13th, 2007
I went to the gym last night to get in my long, Sunday run and a girl who very apparently had an eating disorder was on the elliptical machine in front of me. I went to the locker room and fell back on to one of the cold metal lockers and completely re-thought my life with my sister on the phone.
Being able to tell the difference between priorities and obsessions might seem like splitting hairs. Both drive the outcome of a day; both become associated with my name…but obsessions have a way of appearing to build someone up right before they overtake their goals and become all-consuming.
Running is simply a priority to me. My family and friends, my future career and my education are all things that I am willing to plan time to develop–priorities. Obsessing over grades, though, is something that has started to consume me.
Last Wednesday I pulled an all nighter in a frantic attempt to pull up my grade in a Shakespeare class that, though I understand well, have a terrible time quizzing in. I made a B on my first major test, so The 4.0 was still in grasp even though the quiz grades of late had not been so hot. I’d read the plays, read basic historical contexts of them and felt confident that I’d done enough–until I sat down to take the test. It was frustrating to know that, at first glance, some future employer is only going to see unsatisfactory marks next to a subject I consider myself quite capable in. Yet, because The Grade had become an obsession rather than a priority, pursuing it has slowly dulled my satisfaction with everything else great in my life.
Résumé writing, a big part of the college and career hunts, makes it easy and tempting to hide behind statistics or phrases that sound appealing. All that glitters isn’t gold, though, and diamonds don’t start out sparkling.
More than test-taking and time management, college is teaching me that, behind the body image that the girl in the Rec was fighting to maintain and behind my obsession with getting grades that mean something to some ominous future employer, there are things worth working for that might not mean anything to anyone but me.
Family and fitness and faith and finding out what is enough are things that might not be readily quantifiable, but they sure do increase the quality of life–and are definitely worth setting as priorities.