I know I’m overworked when I enjoy a day of binge-watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” not because it’s a bad show, but because usually watching episode after episode of anything on Netflix leaves me with a sinking feeling bordering on an existential crisis.
On a normal day, watching TV makes me feel like my opportunities for doing something extraordinary (or at least vaguely useful) with my life are creeping away while I sit, vegetative, on the couch. I get angry with myself for wasting time. After all, how would I feel if I died tomorrow and my last day on earth had been spent in front of the television?
Hyperbole aside, I do feel better about myself when I do things I think are worthwhile like reading or talking to friends. A good portion of my summer was spent working through a long list of books and having something faintly resembling a social life. When I have plenty of time to waste, I usually don’t. And yet since orientation, I haven’t read more than a couple pages before going to sleep (not counting my history textbook), and I’ve barely spent time with my friends outside of school.
Part of the reason is simple; I’m just so busy. It doesn’t surprise me that I have very little time this year; plenty of people told me that junior year would be the most difficult. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was how much harder it is for me to deal with free time than with homework. After spending a week filled to the brim with schoolwork, I have no willpower left when Friday comes around. So, with intermittent breaks to do the bare minimum of homework I can pull off, I spent last weekend staring at a screen.
It’s an incredible relief to spend time doing nothing. It’s so much of a relief that I don’t bother to convince myself that my life is slipping away. There comes a point when the effort of turning pages and moving my eyes is just too much. I’m not proud to feel that lazy, and I miss having the drive to do something better with my free time.
I spend a lot of time on schoolwork for a reason, and not just because I want something to complain about. Getting as much as possible out of my classes is important to me and, for the most part, I enjoy them. Even if I haven’t managed to finish “Anna Karenina” or go shopping with a friend, there’s no doubt I get a lot more done in school than out.
After two years, I’m still trying to figure out what often feels like a bizarre balancing act. Somehow, I don’t think blocking out my stress with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is the best strategy. But it might have to do for now.