Student Life

I Sold My Soul to Academia

The deeper I go into academia, the more isolated I seem to get. Mid afternoon on a Friday, I’ve holed up deep into my school’s library typing away at my blog. There’s nothing wrong with me taking the time to focus my energies into the content of this blog, if anything I find it therapeutic to just allow myself to subconsciously work on my writing abilities as I ramble into the void that is the Internet, but at times it’s hard to pull away from my laptop and go outside. I’ve become a workaholic, avoiding friends and the many text messages that are currently piling up on my phone. I value the time I spend studying Calculus and writing essays more than human interaction sometimes. Academia is swallowing me whole.

I was just discussing these counterproductive tendencies to a kasama of mine a day ago. In our talk, we started to unpack my deep insecurities and misplaced value of academia in my life. The importance our society holds in academics to my generation is overwhelming, the effects detrimental. I went through high school in the International Baccalaureate program, in hopes of attending UC Berkeley alongside the rest of my glazed-eyed, sleep deprived peers. Being overwhelmed and taking on too much was a badge each of us wore, the number of higher level classes determining our worth as students. Our capacities were ignored and our health was secondary to writing a paper on The Crucible.

In my work as an organizer, I started to realize how much this martyr complex broke me. It emphasized efficiency, a core belief in capitalism and societies like the United States, over the well being and emotional health of a person. In serving the people, taking up this mentality was hypocritical and my journey in dissecting and unlearning this way of life has become crucial to my work in activism. How can I serve the people if I can’t help and serve myself? What does it say about me as a ND organizer when I adopt this mentality and allow institutions to break up my relationships with others?

Not basing my self worth upon my ability to fulfill the ever-growing list of tasks is a challenging life change to make, but identifying this issue facilitates this growth. I am still learning my place in the movement, forever growing and pushing toward the pro-people society I organize for. Taking these small steps to surround myself with my kasamas, I can already feel myself progressing towards a healthier state of being. Within this leap of faith and critical self analysis, true progress can be made. Slowly, I’m allowing myself to admit my ignorance in topics and ask for help. My stubborn, prideful qualities are reducing, and with due time, I hope to reach a level of self love I have yet to experience.

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