In my experience with college life, during the first week of the semester, I do really well keeping up with the things that make me happy.
But, by week two or three, my hobbies slip away and it’s not until I rediscover them later that I realize how much I enjoy them. Last year during spring break, I sent my roommate a text requesting that during the second half of the semester, she occasionally remind me how much I like to bake.
Cooking and baking are two of the things I enjoy the most, but are also more likely to be cast to the wayside by midterms. Other things I enjoy, like exercise, typically double as tools to keep me sane, so I’m much less likely to let them fall between the cracks of classes, MCAT prep, and extracurriculars. I consider the time I could spend cooking and baking as luxuries that I simply can’t budget into my sometimes-hectic schedule. Can I really justify taking thirty minutes to make myself dinner? Usually I can’t. So instead, I run by a dining hall and grab something to-go on my way to the Ath. Or, I take two minutes to throw some chicken and whatever else is in my room—literally anything, like apples, peanut butter, or kale—into the microwave while I wash dishes or pack my books to go study because do I really even have two minutes to spare?
Cooking is usually something that you have to engage in while baking allows you to toss something in the oven and finish your Biochem homework in the interim. Even then, before you can throw anything anywhere, you have to put in some sort of focused effort. It’s an effort that I enjoy making, but one I can rarely justify—at least, until I’m actually doing it.
When I’m cutting veggies, folding chocolate chips into cookie dough, pulling things out of the oven, and dishing the finished product onto plates, I feel like what I’m doing is completely worthwhile. When I sit down to eat what I’ve made or go around offering cookies to strangers, I feel satisfied and like I’ve spent my time well. I never question whether I misused my time. Nonetheless, time-wasting remains a prohibitive fear.
Once I get going, continuing is easy. It’s the starting that’s the problem. Anyone who knows something about friction (or who has tried to push some heavy object across a room) will understand the sentiment. Static friction prevents movement from happening in the first place and is much stronger than the kinetic variety, which serves to slow down objects that are already in motion. The analogy holds in this situation. There are factors that prevent us from doing the things we want or need to do. Be it lack of motivation, fear of wasting time, or simple exhaustion, such factors are more likely to keep you from starting a task than to prevent you from finishing it.
So, this semester, try to take the time to do something for yourself and avoid being caught off guard at week five when you remember, “Oh wow, I really like reading novels, I totally forgot.” My challenge will be trying to overcome the static friction in my life at least once a week and putting aside the time to cook for myself, using a kitchen, rather than a microwave.