You wake up to sunlight streaming through the blinds of your dorm room window, illuminating piles of clothes on your floor and unfinished homework on your desk. You were up late last night at the library putting in the hours with your study group, but by the time you left, the only thing you'd finished was a Starbucks iced latte. You trudged home and scrolled through your phone until you fell asleep. And you just slept through your nine o'clock class. Again.
Apathy, for college students, is infectious. At a certain point in the semester, some combination of burnout, boredom, and laziness creeps in and begins to ignite in students a vague feeling that nothing matters — not doing homework, going to class, having a job, or even taking care of yourself. Apathy makes you miserable, and it makes college feel pointless. Sometimes lasting for entire seasons of life, apathy makes you hopeless that life will ever improve.
And, if you don't choose to make it get better, it won't.
"Most of us have a chance to make our lives better," said Dr. Jordan Peterson in a video for PragerU. "But how? Start small. Ask yourself a few questions: Have you taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to you? Are you working to your fullest capacity at school or at work? Have you, in other words, set your own house in order?"
In terms of college, are you making the most of your campus resources? Are you putting a reasonable effort into your classes? Are you investing time and energy in your future? Are you doing your best? Evaluate areas of your life that need fixing, and then come up with steps to improve them.
"Transition from passivity to problem-solving," wrote Dr. Leon F. Seltzer for Psychology Today. "What can you do right now to move beyond your mental or emotional inertia? What's the easiest, most do-able first step you can take to pull yourself out of the torpor you've slid into? This is a time to brainstorm: to make a list of what isn't working for you and what could make your situation better."
I have found in the past that increasing personal responsibility eases apathy. Put simply, responsibilities make life feel more meaningful. As a newspaper staff writer, I have a responsibility to create accurate, high-quality articles every week. I'm responsible to promote facts and truth, a cause which is meaningful to me. Late last year, taking this responsibility gave working a sense of meaning, immensely improving my life.
In college, it's easy to give into the popular consensus that school sucks, life is meant to be hated, and nothing matters. But, if you are not careful, this mindset will trap you and drain you of every ounce of passion, motivation, and joy you once had. This popular mindset will only blossom into apathy.
Life doesn't have to be this way; you have the freedom and power to choose to make your life better at any given time. It's not cool to not care. Taking college and your career seriously will give your life a sense of meaning and improve the lives of those around you.