Doing the reading… all of it

A lot of people probably think that I’m crazy when I tell them I’ve done every reading I’ve ever been assigned. And no, I don’t mean read some and skimmed some, or skipped a couple here and there if there simply wasn’t time, but read most of them. I mean I did every reading, every page, for every class I’ve ever had, before the due date. If there are pictures with captions, then I read the captions. If there’s a summary at the end repeating what I’ve just read, then I read that, too. This week, I’m going to have somewhere between 550 and 700 pages of reading, and I’ll be doing all of it. I can’t seem to help myself. 

A lot of you must be saying Dude, that’s stupid. Like, stop beating yourself up over it and relax, okay? Just do the best you can. Geez. If you don’t read every single entry in the ‘B’ section of your Poet’s Glossary, you’re still gonna be fine, okay? And your science textbook—you actually read all of that? They go over all of that in the class. That’s what the class is for—so you don’t actually have to read the textbook.

It doesn’t help my argument that I’m also a slow reader. Reading a fiction novel and taking notes in the margins can often take me anywhere between two to three minutes a page. My science textbooks, with their big pages and small fonts, can take me somewhere between three and five minutes a page. On the short end, then, I’ll be spending around 15 hours this week just doing the readings. On the longer, more likely, end about 28 hours. This, along with everything else that needs doing—writing, eating, going to class, writing, spending time with the people I care about, meeting with professors, working eight hours a week, and writing. Maybe sleeping, every once in a while. 

If it sounds like I’m complaining, trust me, I’m not. If it sounds like I’m singing my praises—look at me, look how hard I work!—I promise, I’m trying to do that even less. There are hundreds of students at this school who read more than me, work more than me, and have many more things to do than me. That students at this school can both get good grades and participate in clubs and/or sports is astonishing. I’d call it magic, but that would diminish all the hard work that goes into these accomplishments.

So not to be too impatient or anything, really, but, you’ve been rambling on forever now and I really don’t know what you’re even trying to say here.

My point is this: try to enjoy things. Someday—someday soon—you’re going to have A CAREER. You might be married. You might have kids. You will have bills and you will have to think about money. Life is never going to stop being busy, so you should, as soon as possible, learn how to have fun inside of a busy life. Learning to work hard is easy—life forces you to work hard wherever you go. Learning to enjoy life—that can be tricky. But whatever you do, enjoy it. Go to that movie, play that game, watch that sixth episode of Stranger Things at 3:30 A.M. with the covers pulled up to your eyes. But—and this is the hardest part—try to have fun while you work, too. This is an opinion piece. My opinion is that, rather than hating our work (as we so often do) and waiting desperately for the too-quick weekend (as we always do), we should try to enjoy our work, as much as we can. Otherwise, it’s just going to be a malevolent specter, dogging us until we’re old and worn down.

My reading? All twenty-eight hours of it? Heck, I love to read. Stephen King? Alright, his books are awesome. The Power of Sympathy, the first American novel? That’s pretty neat! A Poet’s Glossary? Now I know what an aisling is! All this reading? This’ll help my writing so much. So, you know, maybe it sounds crazy that I read absolutely everything, right down to the ISBN number (joking, I swear…), but I bet it sounds a lot less crazy if I tell you, simply, that I spend a lot of time doing something I enjoy. Find what you like in your work, if you haven’t already, and you’ll be able to say the same.

Saying you do a lot of things you hate—now that’s nuts.      

Maybe I should have said all this opinion-y stuff at the beginning. I imagine coming to the conclusion of all this blah-blah just to find out I’m telling you to enjoy everything as much as you can is a little bit of a letdown. But, oh well.

What’s a little extra reading, am I right?

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