Life is a multifaceted affair.
As such, we should come to mold ourselves into multifaceted beings. It would not bode well for us to define ourselves in a two-dimensional manner, only to have the deluge of variability we face each day wash us unceremoniously onto the doorstep of disillusionment.
That is to say, it is important to have our feet planted firmly in multiple domains. It is important to realize we are more than our favorite sport. It is important to realize that we are not defined by the instrument we're best at, or the rapidity of our witticisms, or our familial relations.
Assuming you are not a house cat – being you can read this paper – you are likely a human, and humans are wonderfully complex.
I began pondering the proverbial "eggs in one basket" business when I injured my wrist this summer. That wrist injury led to some initially minor inconveniences; I couldn't flip bacon out of a skillet with my left hand, for one. (I was always a righty when it came to using my spatula, but the sheer weight of a metallic dish and meat left my left hand in more than slight discomfort). I also had to resort to hammer curls in the gym, which left my biceps all but totally confused. High fives were becoming increasingly problematic encounters as well, seeing as I had acquired a habit of flinching away from moving objects that were rapidly approaching my hand.
However minor these variables may seem, it was these same minor inconveniences that really got me thinking. Suppose I had not only injured my wrist, but completely lost my hand as well. I take pride in my piano playing. I have plans of being a surgeon one day. What would I do with my life should I lose my hand in a freak shark/tornado-related accident?
Sharknado-related humor aside, people lose things very important to them every day. Soccer players irreversibly injure their knees. Pianists develop arthritis. Scholars go blind. Parents lose children.'
And life goes on – knees, fingers, eyes or otherwise. It would seem that as fragile as we are physically, we're doubly resilient in morale.
This is because we do not and should not reduce ourselves to our parts.
We should not see ourselves only for our shortcomings, for the fields of academia we fail in, for the dates that didn't go so well of for the parts of our bodies that we aren't entirely proud of. This isn't a diatribe on ignoring our failures. This is a diatribe on how we are so much more than any one aspect of our lives we may or may not have failed at.
But when's the last time your life went according to plan anyway? I couldn't be happier that life's ridiculous emotional shortcomings landed me where I am at the moment. Turbulence has a way of leading to serendipity. The best moments you've had were grown out of the husks of your low times.
So capitalize on it. Spread yourself too thick. Join another club. Make another friend. Find a reason to like physics (I mostly hate physics), or find a reason why you like running (I mostly love running). The next time your homework seems to approach infinity, take a moment to catch your breath and go out to eat somewhere. School is important, but you are not made of only school.
You are not made of only student loans. You are not made of only college, or only that one girl (or guy) who gave you their phone number only to kind of make it seem like they really have no intention of talking to you. You are not made of only your poor (or excellent) grade point average that's slowly creeping up in importance.
You surpass the sum of these parts in the fact that you're you, and you're here and you're doing things. You're a person, and people are full of opportunity, even if they don't see it yet.
Andrew Fleming is a junior in neuroscience. He can be reached at email@example.com.