You all know the feeling-as soon as the final seconds of the Online-Stopwatch timer tick down during your last exam of the semester, no matter how you think you performed on the previous exams, no matter how many questions you left blank on this one, you can't help but savor the sweet taste of freedom. The shackles of parental expectations that bound you to your desk, forcing you to study day in and day out, have finally broken. Free after a week of hell. Free at last.
Again, as you all know, the initial excitement of finishing finals carries into the holiday break, inevitably leading to extreme bouts of laziness and lack of motivation to do...well, anything really. No doubt we deserve to be couch potatoes for a few days, especially after a grueling finals week. This becomes a problem, however, when that state of mind threatens to entrap us- not just throughout the holidays, but during the next semester as well. College breaks are meant to allow us to relax, regroup, recharge, and return with a fresh body and mind. I, for one, have instead seen these three weeks as an excuse to sleep for ten hours a day, even if I don't need it. I haven't exercised once since I came back, I haven't picked up a single pencil, and the most visited site on my laptop has been-you guessed it-Netflix. How do I rediscover that initial burst of motivation coming into the fall semester, when I have been so blatantly unproductive at home?
I've found that deriving inspiration and purpose from the small things can make all the difference. One of the highlights of my break has been meeting up with old friends, catching each other up on our college lives and just hanging out as if we were back in high school. I really missed them because I haven't yet found friends in college who I can have effortless conversations with, who I have inside jokes with. It was refreshing to see so many familiar faces, and it reminded me that I do have the capability to connect with people. I have great friends at home, and I am looking forward to being proactive and making great friends in college, because I miss that level of interaction.
Spending time with my parents has been a blessing as well. They're the reason I have made it thus far, and although I set high standards for myself, I want to succeed for them too. Part of my motivation stems from the fact that my parents wholeheartedly believe in what I can accomplish, and that has gone a long way in making sure I hit the ground running in 2017.
Simple pastimes, such as reading and playing videogames, have also bolstered my positive attitude towards returning to Penn. Rather than feeling disconcerted that I won't be able to crush zombie heads in Resident Evil 4 until March, or that I won't have as much leisure time to get lost in George R.R. Martin's fantasy world(opportunity cost is too high), I enjoy every hour I spend relaxing here. They are both luxuries, and knowing that I will always have home to come back to after a stressful semester pushes me to perform better, because I have to work to get rewarded.
Half the battle in life is to continually be inspired, motivated, driven to do more, no matter how many previous achievements or failures you've experienced. In college, where success is built upon initiative, this ideology is more important than ever. Fine, you'll get the work done in a designated time frame, but the quality of the work will improve tenfold if you want to do it, if you're passionate about it. So go back to college ready to learn and engage in your interests, and acquire that passion through the small, seemingly inconsequential things.
Because although everyone around you seems to be smarter, faster, healthier, and better in every other way, there is one thing they can't take away from you; your ambition.