At the end of every day, I frantically hop into bed. The next day, I’m likely to repeat this routine. If it’s a weekend, I lend myself to the social scene, catch up with my freshman hallmates, some of whom I rarely see, and relish the night. Penn’s “work hard, play hard” mentality sucks me right in. I’m guilty, I know. What happened to my television blog? Haven’t updated that since September. How about running three times a week? I’m lucky to do that once every three months. This disengaged pragmatism has me caught in a continuous loop, one that I struggle to control.

Being at Penn, I’m now in sole command of my actions. No one’s telling me what to do, or where doing that is going to get me. Since acquiring this independence, I see fewer of those things that make me tick (television, running, healthy food and environmental discourses). Instead, self–induced stress over that arduous quest for a summer job or earning an “A” in that irritating two–hundred–person lecture takes precedence. I’ve immersed myself in a ludicrous amount of classes (the total was six just a few weeks ago), executive boards of three clubs, and felt the need to add on extraneous commitments, like managing social media pages.

For a while, I never found time for my “passions," those things that propelled me here in the first place. I developed the idea that my time is an investment and that I have to attain something substantial with it. That’s partially true: I need to make the most of my opportunities, but my goal should be to fight my way out of the conventional routine, not into it. In high school, I was zealous about the environment. Recently, I’ve collaborated with many of my peers to upcycle reusable products, which subsequently raises money for charity. It’s not perfect, but it helps to heighten environmental awareness at Penn, and it's a novelty for my monotonous schedule.

It’s hard to remember, but Penn picked us out of thousands of applicants. We are “the best and the brightest,” or whatever A–Gut affirms annually at Convocation. Some of that’s propaganda, but not all of it. Once upon a time, we were selected based off our creative dissimilarities, characteristics and quirks. They were the idiosyncrasies we (or every 1 in 7) caroled in our admissions essays. Surviving by working hard and playing hard is exhausting. Returning to the fundamentals makes life a tad easier and brings along a little bliss.