How do we assign value to “chilling?”
There is this divide that I did not realize existed in college until recently. There is the academic, professional, tangible personal growth side of school that we can call that ‘growth.’ And then there is the making memories, hanging out, and having fun side that we can call the ‘chill’ part of school. They are not entirely mutually exclusive, but it is pretty close.
Things that fall in this category:
- Making memories with friends
- Hanging out
- Watching TV or movies
- Drugs & alcohol
- Extracurricular activities whose primary purpose is social (think social fraternities)
- Exploring the city/campus
Things that fall in this category:
- Good grades
- Summer or in-semester jobs/internships
- Involvement in extracurricular activities whose primary purposes are not social (think ‘investment banking group’)
- Developing new skills
- Reading/independent learning
What could ‘too much growth’ encompass?
- Always being on the move with something to do next
- Anxiety about getting jobs or internships
- Constant dialogue with friends and family about the job search
- Consistently saying no to your friends so that you can do your work or take care of your responsibilities
- Lack of really strong friendships (where you can be 100% yourself, your friends totally know who you are, etc)
I personally fell into this growth mindset when I got to school. There are a variety of factors behind this, but I ended up in a situation where I felt like I always had to be doing something ‘productive.’ Learning more, doing more, taking on more responsibilities, etc. In the process, I missed a fundamental value of college — the opportunity to be surrounded by thousands of curious, amazing and fun people my age.
It’s important to note that there are many edge cases where my situation wouldn’t apply to others and being in a heavy ‘growth’ mindset could be logical.
For me, though, it became “keep working hard” or relax and don’t take other things as seriously. One of the hardest parts of this was being able to assign a value towards ‘chilling.’ I knew that my work in school would lead to grades. I knew that my internship would lead to developing skills and another piece on my resume. I did not know what spending a night hanging out with my friends would tangibly mean.
This is not to say that over the past two years all that I have done is work. Far from it, actually. I’m in a fraternity and have plenty of people that I would consider to be my friends. I realized, though, that it is easy to create an environment where you can convince yourself that you are doing enough ‘social’ things when that might not really be the case.
That phrase ‘enough social things’ is different for everyone. For me, though, I have a). not spent enough time with people creating connections and b). not spent my ‘social’ time doing what I actually wanted to be doing.
I look at a lot of my peers and think they have fallen into the same sylo. It is easy to put your head down and work or do ‘growth’ things. The reason is because there are always new commitments to take on and skills to learn. It is harder to make friends, spend time with those friends and be vulnerable creating connections.
I think people that spend the majority of their time in the ‘chill’ boat do it because it is so fun. There’s nothing like making those memories and getting close with other people. It is one of the beautiful parts of life, and especially of college.
I guess the point I am trying to get towards here is that thinking independently does not just apply to what we spend our ‘growth’ time doing. It applies to how we spend 100% of our time. Just because many people around us worry about getting good jobs or doing ‘growth’ things, does not mean that we should follow suit. When I got to school, I was surrounded by ‘growth’ communities and I clung to them, for better and worse.
Life is complex and many people struggle during college. I’m super fortunate to be in the position that I am in and I have had a great past two and a half years, but I have not had enough of the ‘chill’ mindset. There is this beautiful, less quantifiable, aspect of life. Constantly being growth focused means that you will miss out on this beauty, meaningfulness and fun. It is not a waste of time to relax or hang out with others. It makes life more rich :)