Friday, June 6, 2014

Why I regret being a bookworm in college (by choice)

So, I've graduated from college.


College was great. It's like getting a fresh start at defining yourself. For me, after being caged in a dingy classroom with the same twenty-something guys for six years during secondary school, college provided a fresh environment with different people and personalities, and a brand new stage of life. (To the twenty-something guys, don't worry, I have fond memories of you and those dingy classrooms.) On top of that, since I was staying in the hostel in college and no longer at home, I feel that I got the full college experience of reshaping who I am, in a sense. But now that college is over, I'm starting to think that I shouldn't have spent so much time studying.

All work and no play makes...

Now don't get me wrong. Studying is important and stuff, alright? If you're in college, you have to study. The last thing I want to do is to sound like some sort of advocate for reckless partying and wanton class-skipping. If you're a student, you study, it's in your job description. But... even though studying is important, it's a terrible thing to be identified among your friends as "he who must not be removed from his books". College is full of activities to participate in, interests to pursue, and people to meet. If you renounce all other hobbies, and make studying and reading your one and only hobby, you're going to miss out on a lot.

(Fellow bookworms, I understand you. "But studying is my hobby! Or if not studying, then at least sitting down quietly with a good book to enjoy by myself." Yes, and there will be time for all of that, plus other interests as well, if you manage your time and energy well. Just for your information: Terry Pratchett did gardening, J.K. Rowling is a football fan, and Suzanne Collins did gymnastics. Interesting, no?)

"Studies" is a poor memorable activity and conversation topic.

Speaking from a point of view where college is over: Once everyone has gone their separate ways, the thing which you and you friends will cherish the most is the memories spent together. That's why it's good, for the sake of friendships, to sometimes put down the books and just go out and have fun. Not many people will look back on their college days with their bros and think, "Hey, I remember that time when we went to the library together and studied quietly around the table. Man, that was wild, I miss those guys." It's an okay, memory, but not a great memory, and personally I'm kind of sad that that's the thing I remember doing the most with my bros. We could have gone out and done more.

Also, if you just study all the time, you're going to run out of things to talk about before long. During college it's survivable for a while. "Hey, man, what's shaking?" "Oh, dude, it's nasty. Physics is just sick, and that Organic Chemistry chapter is killing me." "Yeah, I know, right." This is what I imagine a conversation between two punk-rock bookworms sounds like. But once exams are over, and everyone's graduated, they'd sound something like "Oh, hey. What's up?" "Nothing much, dude. I've been okay." "Alright, me too." "Great." "..."


Some day the studying will end.

During college, I studied a lot. I really don't think I needed to study that much, per se, I just did. Done with lunch? Time to study. Class is cancelled because teacher is sick? Oh, sweet, an extra hour to study! Friday night at the hostel? Got to sleep early so I can wake up early tomorrow, and study! Yes, that was me, unbearably bookstuck, and that is a word I just made up. Cognosco Ergo Sum; I study, therefore I am. Other than studying, I only read webcomics during my few receptacles of free time, to release stress. But when the end of exams was in sight, I realised: Some day the studying will end. Some day very soon. Extra drama added. After that, I'm a free man, and then what am I going to do with my life? Will I just waste my infinite supply of free time on reading webcomics and rotting in front of the interwebz? Cue existential crisis.

Okay, it's not nearly all that bad. It's not hard to pick up new interests once exams are over. But it's always good to have some, like, back-up interests to be able to spend time on when the studying comes to an end. Pursuing these other interests ahead of time, like in college with friends, gives you a headstart to explore further during the after-exam freedom period, and also gives you something to do with your friends, to build fond memories, like I mentioned in the previous section.

In summary, I feel that a lot of my college life has gone towards reinforcing the stereotype: Bookworms are excellent students and boring friends. I sort of wish I'd not been so bookstuck, and gone out with my friends more to shopping malls and movies, maybe even arranged some gaming nights on weekends. Or pretty much anything, really, other than studying. What I realise now is, there will always be time for studying, but there won't be much time for friends. College life was a bit too short. But hey, it's not the end. University life will be a brand new start all over again. Here's to hoping I don't mess this one up with my books.


All work and no play makes Jon a dull boy.