Wednesday, May 30, 2012
My backpack got progressively heavier and heavier throughout the school year. I'm sure it had nothing to do with my tendency to accumulate unseemly amounts of flashcards. Every night/early morning when I'd get back to my dorm I had the opportunity to experience one of the best feelings of relief: taking off the 40 pound weight that I had trudged along with me up and down the stairs to my classes, meals, and dorm. No matter how many ribbons I put on it, that backpack was the bane of my college existence.
Yet I couldn't go anywhere without it. Without my backpack, I lost my immediate access to study materials and homework. Without this access, I could potentially be in a situation where I was not being productive. Without productivity, I felt purposeless. Tasks and to-do lists gave me the feeling of meaning that, while ultimately hollow, kept me motivated to keep moving and learning and making more to-do lists.
The problem of the heavy backpack lies in me grasping tightly onto an identity that was built on empty definitions of accomplishment. I don't carry around a backpack during the summer, yet I still have multiple cross-referencing task lists to perpetuate this unfounded identity.
The paradox of the heavy backpack is that the thing that I couldn't let go of was the very thing that was dragging me down. A never-satisfied need to be productive is what could make and destroy me simultaneously.
Sometimes other people's backpacks aren't as easily seen as mine. Maybe they aren't tangible at all. I think it would be safe to suppose that almost everyone carries their own burdens that they both need and despise.
Let's try lightening the load a bit.