From my first few weeks at Tech onward I heard the mantra that students here want three things; sleep, good grades and a social life. We students want all three of these things, but we are only allowed two of them per semester.
Long before I heard this cursed rule of three, I learned that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Combine these two axioms and your can explain my heart-felt longing over the past three years. I have had a long distance relationship, from the end of my first week here till today, with sleep. Like all long-distance relationships, sleep and I see each other rarely, usually on the weekends. Our weekend dates are romantic rendezvous, and I rarely leave the bed.
I have tried to explain to sleep that if only he wasn’t so demanding of my time, it might work out better. If only I could get some work done while seeing him, or maybe go out for a drink with my friends and bring him along, then we could see each other more. But alas, no, sleep is possessive, and when we are seeing each other, there is no room for a third wheel.
This is how I have chosen to negotiate Tech; sleep deprived, but happy. It is amazing, in retrospect, how little sleep you need to get by. I have spent three years mastering the art of the nap, the power-nap, the snooze button and the 18-hour weekend catch-up sessions. My health hasn’t suffered over-much, and I am happier for it.
By forgoing the sleep I love so dearly, I have been able to get decent enough grades, that I am not all that scare as I apply to law school this fall. By managing my sleep schedule I have built relationships with people that I hope to maintain for years to come, both as friends and professional colleagues.
Without sleep I have sat through countless Technique deadlines, Mock Trial tournaments, finals sessions and even the occasional party. Without sleep I flew across the country to study abroad, and with very little sleep I flew home.
Each student should of course, pick their own schedule and preferences. If you cannot safely get by with less than eight hours a night, by all means, get your eight hours. Maybe you will be the exception to the rule. Maybe you will wake up each day fully rested, with all of your homework done and all of your friends seen and satisfied. I am sure it has been done.
Good grades can be attained. If you study, attend class and ask for help when you need it, you will get good grades.
Friends can be kept. If you are punctual, or even just polite, and are willing to eat nachos, gossip, and walk to class in a slightly different pace than your normal walking speed, then you will graduate with friends. If you are willing to put in the effort of an occasional facebook post and birthday party, its a guarantee.
Sleep, despite my personal experience, can happen. If you make it a priority, if you schedule it and keep your health in mind, then you will sleep plenty.
In fact, you can get all of these things, in some doses, every week. You just might not get them all the time, every week.
On those weeks when you skip on sleep, or bail on a friend, or miss homework don’t despair.
Do not panic if you wake up one day and have forgotten that homework assignment. Yes, it will probably hurt your grade, but no, it will not be the sole difference between you and graduation. It has happened to every-one, or at least almost everyone.
Do not feel bad if you have to call your friend and cancel that dinner, your friend will survive. It might be nice to offer to drive next time you go out though.
No matter what impression you get from that older girl in your sorority, or your PL, no-one at this school has it perfect yet. There is not a student here with a 4.0 GPA. a perfect best friend and a loving, gorgeous significant other, the perfect body and a healthy sleep-schedule. This student does not exist, and so while this idealized student is a good goal, it is not one worth driving yourself crazy over. A normal college life is hard enough to manage.
Perfection, for most students, is like sleep is for me. It is illusive, fun to fantasize about, and mostly unattainable. Put the idea of it in the back of your mind, and work towards it as hard as you can, but when you don’t get there, relax. No-one else has either.