EdBoard: sweet, sweet heat
With summer break on the horizon, Carnegie Mellon students bring the college vibe more than ever. With spikeball galore and hammocks by the tennis courts, it should be a happy time full of ice cream and picnic blankets. As we all know, however, Carnegie Mellon students simply don’t know how to take a proper break. For many, this is one of the most anxious times of the year. With finals looming on the horizon, many are asking themselves the age-old question: “What to do with summer break?”
Many scramble to find internships, checking Handshake or sending daily emails in the hopes that this next application will be the one. Others register for summer classes, trying to keep pace with peers who always seem one step ahead. Some scavenge for a decent-paying summer job — one that pays the bills without increasing the burnout that has been building all year. It is not the simple preparation it should be.
Summer break is one of the incredible perks of academia. For many of us, it’s what kept us going through our primary and high school years. Having a designated long break every year to rest, recharge, and actually be outside for once (with hopefully no snow) is a luxury we don’t typically get to keep for the rest of our lives. So why do we feel the need to cram it with more and more resume-building activities?
Part of it is simply because our peers are doing it and we don’t want to fall behind. Though Carnegie Mellon does have a collaborative atmosphere at times, there’s no denying the competitive undertow. We push ourselves to be the best, even if that means cutting hours out of our sleep schedules or doing homework for an extra hour when we should be taking a break or hanging out with friends. We’re told of the success of those that came before us and we don’t want to fall short of the goals that we set for ourselves.
We’re burnt out. The more words we see, the less we know. Rather than building our knowledge base, working through math problems has us losing brain cells. Our sleep deficit is encroaching upon unprecedented reserves. As we stagger toward the finals week and the finish line, it’s clear we need a break. There’s a reason we have breaks built into our schedules. It signals a shift from chaotic course schedules to a time where we can step back and enjoy the world for a few months.
But, since high school, most of us have been conditioned to spend every waking moment finding a way to become the perfect capitalist specimen with resumes barely fitting on the page and every minute of our days spent being productive little working machines. However, judging from the state of most Carnegie Mellon students, this is impossible and we all end up beating ourselves up for not being able to sustain an unsustainable lifestyle.
This summer please, take a break for once. Instead of beating yourself up for not getting the internship or having the perfect work experience, remember that you are truly doing what you can now and that you do not owe anyone your entire life. Try to take time for yourself and take things at you own pace; school will still be here when you get back in the fall. Summer is for letting yourself take a break for once and soak up the sun, because before you know it Pittsburgh’s cloudy skies and the endless cycle of work will be waiting for you to return.