My laptop is fixed! Mostly. It has issues with randomly not coming out of standby and sometimes going "whoop! I'll shut down... now!" when I didn't tell it to, but at least I've got it back and can do things like read my files again. (Lord, I have so much grading of labs to catch up on now that my data is accessible.)
I'm sleeping a solid 5 hours a night when I should be doing work, and it bothers me that this doesn't bother me as much as I think it ought to. It also bothers me that it bothers me in the first place. Silly brain.
Olin expects a lot from us and we expect a lot from each other, but we expect even more from ourselves. Too much, sometimes. Half my mind says we're going to burn out and crash and this isn't worth it - the other half is having the time of its life and knows it wouldn't be happy with anything else. And the third half (ssh, I can do fractions) secretly nurtures dreams that us going crazy right now will somehow lead to us saving the world in the future.
But saving the world is hard, and it's easy to lose track of it in the messiness of daily life. There are rough spots, arguments, dropped jobs, broken promises, everything you thought you'd gotten away from when you came to a place like Olin. Everyone's supposed to try hard, do their best, try to make everything okay no matter what it took. But there's more work than there are people to handle it. We're a few hundred people trying to reshape engineering education in four years, and most of us are kids struggling to make a difference in a world we haven't entirely grown up into yet.
We knew we had to make sacrifices when we came, but "no matter what it takes" shouldn't include the sanity of half the population. So we cut back, whether we decide to or we're forced to - I know I once worked through a week and slept 5 hours in as many days, turned in everything, and then just fell on my mattress and didn't move for another 14 hours. And that's the longest I've ever slept in my (non-infant, non-comatose) life, nearly three times the amount I usually get. And then we wake up and feel guilty for being human.
Because, you know, we should be superhuman. Because sometimes it seems like we are, or that we're supposed to be; we're supposed to do great things. Go, go, go! You people are extraordinary! Why are you crying over your exam grade? What do you mean, you can't debug your program? What are you doing staring out the window at the snow when you're supposed to be writing your paper? Don't you know you're supposed to be saving the world?
I've been burning the candle at both ends for eight years now. Sixth grade was when I kicked into high gear and began pulling allnighters and going overboard. For fun. I can barely remember not being this way any more; it's one of the reasons I'm planning on taking some time between undergrad and graduate school to do... one thing at a time. One simple thing at a time. Something I can put my entire self into, but something that's actually humanly sane and reasonable to do. The trick is finding something that will let me rest and sleep while not letting me feel like a complete slacker.
Burning the candle at both ends is a choice, just like everything else. I know full well I'm driving myself to work, and I know full well I'm letting myself slack. And I know both are things I have chosen, and I know the consequences of those choices. I'm not always proud of them, but I know I'm the one who made those decisions.
You know what? Not too long from now, I'll actually look back on these days with a sort of nolstagia. It's happened to my high school years already. The times I fell asleep with my head on the keyboard in the middle of coding because I was just that tired. The times I did make it into bed and would wake up seated against the headboard with a physics book in my lap. The times I sat up all night worrying about a friend. The times I stayed up helping my classmates pass math, then staggered back to my room and sat on a pillow on the bathroom floor (so as to not wake my roommate) and started my own very, very neglected homework around 3am. (This is the reason I became a night owl in the first place. Nobody asked for help at 3am.)
And then there were the nights when I climbed out on the tree over the pond in the back of the school and just looked at the lights over the dark water and watched my breath fog, or went running up and down the hill, or huddled with my bare feet on the hot radiator on a cold night when the heater wasn't running high enough to keep up with the Aurora winter. Once I saw a deer standing between the dormitories before it suddenly turned and ran through the early morning fog; I think I was the only person in my building awake then. There were quiet times and there were good times, and there were times when I wished I knew how to cry (I can't) and wished the world would just stop and I wouldn't have to wake up for another morning of work ever again. In the end, though, I remember the good ones more.
Geez. I used to do so much in high school. I used to do a lot my first year and a half here. What happened? Am I really that burnt out now? I can't drive myself through lack of sleep like I used to, and I like kicking back and hanging with my friends, even at some times when I should technically be working. I'm growing more selfish in the name of sustainability. It's a choice. I'm not sure that it's the right one.
Check: Am I happy?
Good. Carry on, then.