Monday, March 3, 2014

Get Your Priorities Straight

            Every single decision we make, from what pair of shoes we put on in the morning, to how many hours we study for an exam, can be explained by our priorities.  Having priorities is a necessity for survival—a guide to both daily activities and life-changing decisions.  We all have priorities, but the challenge most of us face is becoming aware of them.
            I drove to New Orleans this weekend for Mardi Gras.  I have two midterms this week.  I’m not going to pretend that my trip to Tulane helped me prepare for my tests.  It most certainly did not.  Many of my classmates spent the weekend in the library studying while I drove 16 hours round trip and spent 3 exhausting days exploring Bourbon Street, rekindling relationships with old friends, and meeting many new ones.  Will my grades suffer for it?  Perhaps, but that’s okay with me.
            The way I see it, life is bigger than test scores.  Sure, I strive to do well in school, and this semester more than ever I am truly intrigued by the material covered in my courses.  That being said, if my calculations are correct, no single mid-term can be worth more than one or two percent of a typical student’s GPA.  That’s pretty much insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
On the other side of the spectrum, these days, the people who I once considered my best friends in the world, I only see a couple times a year.  After seeing them every day for most of my adolescent life, long weekends and vacations are the only opportunities I have to maintain some of the relationships that I have spent my entire youth building.
            When I decided that I was going to Mardi Gras, I was fully aware of my academic obligations.  I knew the risk I was taking by putting my books away the weekend before two exams.  That being said, I didn’t neglect my schoolwork completely.  I studied all last week, and made sure that I was caught up in class before I left.  Still, a little extra studying can never hurt.  My first test is in an hour yet I find myself sitting here writing this post instead of going through my notes again.
            Why do I act in this way that many of my peers see as completely irrational?  The answer is that I am extremely aware of my priorities.  As my parents would readily admit, I’ve been a bit of a slacker for as long as I can remember.  GPA has never been something that has concerned me very much.  The truth is, I’d sacrifice a GPA point for a friendship any day, and I’d sacrifice a lot more than GPA points to be happy.  I firmly believe that a 4.0 means absolutely nothing if you had a miserable time getting there.  Moreover, what good is a lucrative paycheck if you have no one to share it with?
            In the end, success, and perhaps more importantly, happiness boils down to an equation much more complex than the one used to calculate a cumulative GPA.  The people you meet, the places you go, and the experiences that go along with those adventures, are all things worth considering when making decisions.  So, as much as I appreciate and honestly enjoy the material that I am learning in school, you’ll probably never catch me in the library on a Saturday night.  As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t get a job because my GPA is a couple points too low, I don’t want to work there anyway.  People are more than just a number.  I know what my priorities are.  Do you?