Life doesn’t wait for the weekend: A personal essay

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“After this week is over, it will be better. I can’t wait until the next break, so I can finally relax.”

These are the thoughts I reach for when I’m overwhelmed by the stress of the week. I’m constantly waiting for some ideal time in the near future when I won’t be as stressed, when I can relax, have fun and really enjoy life. Every day, I’m just waiting for the next weekend.

In reality, though, that moment never comes. I will always have more assignments or another midterm. Even the longer breaks over summer and in winter get filled with internships, applications and even more work.

Although this is no secret to me, I still use the weekend as a beacon of hope to get me through each week. I keep this mindset to help myself cope with the near-constant stress of classes, research and internships.

So what’s the problem with this? The problem is that I do it all the time. Using this mindset to get yourself through a particularly rough week is fine, but I’ve learned to use it as a crutch, and it’s beginning to make me regretful.

I constantly find myself looking back on past semesters and classes and thinking, “That class was so interesting,” or, “I wish I could be back in that class again.” In hindsight, I always wish I took the time to enjoy my classes more.

Although this is no secret to me, I still use the weekend as a beacon of hope to get me through each week.

It’s hard to really enjoy these courses and appreciate brilliant professors, however, when you’re bogged down by work, running on three hours of sleep and stressed about exams. It’s extremely easy to get sucked into the grind of school and become a workaholic, living and organizing your whole life around classes and studying.

There is something about being forced to do something for a grade that can really take the fun out of learning. An interest becoming an obligation can put enough pressure on you that you forget why you liked it in the first place.

Classes I took during my freshman and sophomore years, such as “Introduction to Astronomy” (LS C70U) and “Human Biological Variation” (INTEGBI 35AC), were classes I picked out because they piqued my interest. But once the first project or midterm rolled around, suddenly I was dreading lectures and losing interest in what I was studying.

Just like in high school, when being forced to read certain books made you hate them, even a class about something I’m passionate about can become grueling and unexciting. I can hardly blame myself for only focusing on grades and simply getting the assignments in.

I also can’t appreciate the free time I do have when it seems as if there is always studying to do.  I can’t count the number of activities I’ve decided not to do or experiences I’ve turned down because I’m so busy and stressed about school. I tell myself to just wait for the weekend to do these fun things, but this means I miss out on all the things that could happen during the rest of the time.

Time is flying by. Coming into junior year this semester was a big moment, as I’m now over halfway through my time at UC Berkeley. The first two years went by in the blink of an eye, and this really put into perspective how quickly this experience will be over. Soon, my friends and I will be posing for our graduation photos and moving to other parts of the country. This makes me question how I will spend my remaining time.

What are you going to remember more — the Saturday you spent holed up in Main Stacks or the Saturday you spent in San Francisco with your friends? Obviously, dropping all my work and having fun 24/7 isn’t the goal either, but there is definitely room for a bit more spontaneity in my life.

I’m trying to learn to enjoy all of my time here — that means enjoying every day of the week.

It sounds like a cheesy, greeting card saying, but I think living in the moment is something we can all practice more. It’s so common to hear college graduates of all ages look back on their time in school, reminisce and conclude that it was the best time of their lives. I don’t want to look back on my time at UC Berkeley and regret anything.

I’m trying to learn to enjoy all of my time here — that means enjoying every day of the week. This might mean putting a pause on my work to go get dinner with a friend or baking with my roommates instead of squeezing in that extra hour of studying.

Even last night, I was deciding between staying in and finishing my English paper and joining my friends at a board game café. In the back of my mind, I was still thinking that I could go to Victory Point Cafe at any time, whereas the English paper would be due the next day. This is the type of thinking I want to change.

The truth is, spending time with friends isn’t always so easy to reschedule. When the weekend finally rolls around, people are busy and plans fall through. With everyone’s increasingly busy schedules, finding time to hang out becomes more difficult. I continue to remind myself that I need to take these opportunities to spend time with the people I care about when they arise.

Always pushing things off until the next midterm is over and never enjoying the moment will leave me regretting the way I spent my time. I can’t keep waiting for the weekend to have the experiences that will become my lasting memories.

I ended up going to Victory Point with my friends, and I was also able to finish the English paper on time. I had to stay up a bit later to get it done, but if I hadn’t joined my friends, a memory would not have been made. We ended up playing card games and listening to music — this might not seem important, but it’s a moment I’ll remember. Opportunities to have these experiences won’t always be available, and I need to take advantage of them.

Contact Sarah Frechette at [email protected].