Measuring life is futile

T.S. Eliot writes, “For I have known them all already, known them all: Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”

As a student-athlete and full-time student working a part-time job in the evenings, the truth in Eliot’s words is startling — it seems as though my life is truly measured in coffee spoons (or, in my case, mugs of tea.) Like many college students, I caffeinate my way through the day and much of the night, wrapping my fingers around steaming mugs as I furiously type one more paper, frantically skim one more article. I rush from class to class, from class to practice, from practice to church, to workouts, to study sessions, to work. I sleep infrequently.

Still, I don’t even begin to harbor the delusion that I’m the busiest student here.

We dash across campus to and from classes and activities, chasing the fleeting success dangled in front of us on brochures and marketing promos. We’re told to stay busy, to fill our free time with resume-enhancers, to major in something that will bring us some degree of security in the future while simultaneously improving the world for others. We work hard now so that we can have a good life in the future.

I just have to wonder — when does “enough” become “too much?” When do we stop measuring out time with coffee spoons, focusing so intently on our desperate acquisition of success that we lose track of our lives?

The American Freshman Norms survey, a 2014 study of approximately 153,000 students nationwide done by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, revealed that in 2014 almost 40 percent of freshman students said that they spent five hours or less per week socializing, up from only 18 percent in 1987. Furthermore, a study released by Georgetown University showed that roughly 40 percent of undergraduate students and more than 75 percent of graduate students work more than 30 hours per week while attending university.

We are all busier than ever. We know the competition for jobs after college is fierce; graduates with impressive degrees are no longer uncommon, and we have to stand out if we want our resumes to be considered and not simply discarded. If the rest of the student body is anything like me, they are desperate to prove themselves as capable adults post-graduation, and that desire fuels our impossible schedules. Each of us strives to be the best, but is overfilling our schedules in an attempt to ‘stand out’ to future employers really the answer?

I firmly believe that we have been blessed with the opportunity to come to Baylor, to study with some of the greatest minds in the world. Like most students, I am striving to take full advantage of this opportunity, and I’m certainly not saying that we should become lax in our efforts, but drowning ourselves in coffee and tea and energy drinks with the deluded idea that we are fueling our future success can’t be the best way to live.

Yes, we are here to prepare for our future, but let’s quit measuring our lives, our days and our schedules with coffee spoons. Our desperate race toward success should not impede our ability to enjoy our fleeting time as students. The future advances regardless of our efforts, and we should revel in the time we have now. At least, as Eliot says, “till human voices wake us and we drown.”

Karyn Simpson is a junior journalism and environmental studies major from Fair Oaks Ranch. She is the copy editor for the Lariat.