By Breeda Bennett-Jones
Nation & World Editor
Much to the chagrin of my peers, I don’t do any homework after 8 p.m.
Though I’m proud to say it, I know it makes me an outcast in a fast-paced college environment of strung-out caffeine addicts. We millennials wear our sleeplessness proudly, our eye bags and wan complexion unapologetically visible as we drift disorientedly into our first class of the day.
We socialize with classmates and form friendships partly on the basis of how tired and stressed we are. Despite our different majors, backgrounds or where we come from, the one thing we all seem to agree on is how sleep is both fiercely revered and terribly inconvenient.
I used to belong to this school of thought. Last semester, in the midst of changing my major and dealing with an existential crisis, I decided something needed to change. My high school habit of starting homework after dinner had been rendered obsolete by the strict deadlines my classes required. Every night, I would sit among the carnage of cramming, glance abysmally at the clock in the corner of my MacBook’s screen and feel my heart sink.
Though I am a high-strung individual who literally organizes her closet to relieve stress, I resolved to change my ways for the rest of the year. I decided to not treat homework like an afterthought, to prioritize the regularity of an evening routine, to keep my textbooks and notebooks in a drawer out of sight and to stop doing homework after 8 p.m.
It’s been nearly four months, and I could not be happier. Luckily for me, it was a natural transition. I began to remember what it was like to look forward to an empty evening, to sit down with friends or family and tend to life’s more heartfelt elements. Perhaps it has something to do with my English-Irish heritage, where drinking tea and having a chat is both a national pastime and a sacred evening ritual.
Breaking habits is not easy, and this was no exception. I bought an alarm clock. I abandoned late nights of watching movies or listening to music in bed. I start working on homework before breakfast, and usually work through lunch. Despite the tough period of adjustment I suffered through, I have enjoyed every minute of it.
The days seem longer and regularly paced. I feel more confident in my ability to get work done. I talk to my family more often, and I don’t feel as homesick. Undeniably the best part of my day, and the result I least expected, is that I get to watch the sky darken over Lake Sylva every single night.
I would suggest this method to anyone who is willing to get in touch with themselves again. Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once wrote, “When I let go of who I am, I become what I might be.”
This has been a guiding principle for me since I changed my lifestyle four months ago. Leaving time for myself in the evening has allowed me to catch up with life’s unforgiving pace, become closer with the ones I love and rekindle an appreciation for the little things.
For me, life has become more vibrant and much less overwhelming. I am more excited than ever for what the future has in store.