Hey Vanderbilt, Why Are You Always “So Busy?”

Hey Vanderbilt, Why Are You Always “So Busy?”

500 views

The Stevenson Library which had worked them down, was the library that grinds young people old; the children had ancient faces and grave voices; and upon them, and upon the grown faces, and ploughed into every furrow of age and coming up afresh, was the sigh, Busyness. It was prevalent everywhere. Busyness was pushed out of the tall Towers, in the wretched flyers that hung upon Commons trees; Busyness was patched into them with ink and thought and the blood and sweat of executive meetings; Busyness was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of the case study that the man printed off; Busyness stared down from the empty tunnels, and started up from weekend Rand that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat. Busyness was the inscription on Mapco’s shelves, written in every small pod of his scanty stock of bad juul flavors; at the career center, in every resume that was offered for internship applications. Busyness rattled its dry bones among the unsuspecting students in the happy campus.

The excerpt above is an adapted quotation from Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, one of the most thought-provoking and foundational works from the past few centuries. The original text characterized hunger in pre-Revolutionary Paris, and the new version obviously characterizes a dramatized Vanderbilt.

Tale of Two Cities’s politically motivated theme exposes the struggle between the aristocracy and the poor in pre-revolutionary France. In the corrupt political system, the entitled aristocracy disenfranchises the poor at every turn. The poor finally become willing to risk the remainder of what little they had left to rebel and institute an equally arbitrary government which guillotines the rich simply for being rich. This story parallels the present political discourse, as ours is characterized by partisan motivated hatred of the other side, sometimes simply because of a label.

Dickens’ point on the issue is that there is no black or white answer for every problem. The most overspent quotation from the work characterizes this point: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Politics in America is so divided that if a Democrat were to take a pro mullet position, a Republican would take a pro bowl cut position. Unfortunately, we are finding no common ground on personal issues, which only further divides us. However, this is only one theme of the novel; the novel relates to the bleak campus culture and mental health at Vanderbilt, as well.

By far, the most complex character of the tale is Sydney Carton. As a lawyer in London, Carton spends every waking moment either working on a case or drinking himself into oblivion, never taking the time to develop real personal connections with those around him. Sound familiar? This seems to be an epidemic pervasive on the Vanderbilt campus – one that also infects me and is implicit in everything around us.

It appears that the stigma of mandatory busyness on campus is the prime suspect. It surrounds our lives and often manifests itself in ways that over exaggerate its necessity. For instance, when you casually ask a friend what they are up to, the troubling and all too customary response is most likely one of the following:

“Just a stats exam and getting prepped for bio exam next week. What’s up?”

“I’m free anytime after Thursday morning…I have to study for physics exam.”

“Just a lot of work wbu?”

“After Wednesday pretty empty week.”

“Actually, not too much, finally.”

“Just some school work and trying to have some free time here and there. You?”

“I have two tests this week.”

In fact, I texted ten friends asking, “What’re you up to this week?” and listed seven of those responses above. Two others mentioned not having too much work. The other explained that he had to tend to a relationship and mentioned not having any work. All of the responses contained the pervasive common denominator of work.

This kind of talk is infectious. It may be true that your life revolves around work but saying so at every opportunity reinforces a culture of busyness. I find myself feeling the need to find something to do, since work is clearly the highest priority for so many others. Vanderbilt is so collectively competitive that this rhetoric pushes us to do whatever we can to “keep up.” But once it is all done, we can rest and make time for our friends, right? Not so fast. The trend seems to move from busyness of schoolwork to the busyness of partying. Thursday classes come to a close and we start planning the pregame. Friday and Saturday are the same, but on Sunday, we return back to the grind of school. Vanderbilt is the epitome of the work-hard, play-hard institution.

I contend that I, along with other students, practice this in an effort to avoid the feeling of loneliness. The joint effort of the community to place a high premium on personal busyness is unhelpful in building foundations of deep friendship. Personal connection is indispensable for individual well-being, as well as for the development of a healthy society. In his work Bowling Alone, social scientist Robert Putnam emphasizes a correlation between declining civic engagement and the alienation of Americans from one another. On the importance of relational competence, Putman summarizes, “A well-connected individual in a poorly connected society is not as productive as a well-connected individual in a well-connected society.” Right now, beneath the networking, family connections, and organizational involvement, most of Vanderbilt seems to consist of poorly-connected individuals in a poorly-connected community.

In observation of campus trends, it appears that the collectively confirmed busyness encourages poor personal connection, which in turn creates lonely individuals. What does the loneliness create? More busyness. It is a toxic cycle that proves to be nearly unbreakable. Twenty-One Pilots’ song “Car Radio,” relates to the same idea of dependence on a numbing device to block lonely thoughts. The song is about the narrator and his life when his car radio is stolen. He complains, “Sometimes quiet is violent” as he is “forced to deal with what [he] feels/ There is no distraction to mask what is real.” Furthermore, after his fear devastates him, he moves on to sing, “There are things we can do/ But from the things that work there are only two/ And from the two that we choose to do/ Peace will win/ And fear will lose.” The narrator encourages the listener to abandon dependence on the car radio – or our dependence on busyness – and to overcome the fear of avoiding loneliness.

Ultimately, breaking out of habitual busyness and maintaining healthy relationships comes down to having the courage to overcome complacency and a fear of being vulnerable with others about the real issues in your life.

Simple student well-being is the not the extent of the consequences of the busyness, but they extend more broadly to the campus culture. We see the effects in political alienation and the establishment of socio-racial niches, which fail to interact with one another. The easiest thing we can do is to assume complacency within our respective groups and create echo chambers that further discourage dialogue with those of other perspectives. We must start by sacrificing time from self-serving activities until we can truly build community. Sacrificing one’s time to build relationships and foster understanding also leads to a political ideology that is no longer so objectively black and white.

If Vanderbilt as a whole succeeds in overcoming this virulent culture, we will be sending students out into the world that can affect positive developments in the socio political sphere of America. The partisanship and disconnection in the society at large are not inherent. Fighting busyness in our microcosm of Vanderbilt can lead to friendship in the macrocosm of America.

As it is now, the busyness clouds every facet of our lives, leaving no time for us to listen to our friends and engage in real conversations. If students can succeed in battling chronic, self-imposed busyness, Vanderbilt students might actually become the happiest in America.

About author

Danny Harris

Danny is a Junior from Memphis, TN. He is majoring in Philosophy and Political Science, with minors in Business and History. On campus, he writes for the Voices section of the Vanderbilt Hustler and is Vice President for both Vanderbilt College Republicans as well as for his fraternity, KA. Danny is interested in attending law school, and is passionate about the philosophical and ethical questions that surround politics and the law.

Comments
  • retro jordans#1

    January 9, 2019

    My husband and i felt so glad Raymond could do his investigation from the precious recommendations he was given while using the web site. It is now and again perplexing just to choose to be offering tips many people might have been selling. We really see we need the blog owner to thank because of that. All of the explanations you have made, the straightforward site navigation, the relationships you make it possible to instill – it’s got mostly wonderful, and it’s really leading our son in addition to the family recognize that the issue is brilliant, which is seriously mandatory. Thanks for all!

    Reply
  • adidas ultra boost#2

    January 8, 2019

    Thanks so much for giving everyone an exceptionally superb chance to read articles and blog posts from this site. It’s usually so pleasing and as well , packed with a lot of fun for me personally and my office co-workers to search the blog particularly three times in one week to read through the new tips you will have. And indeed, I am always fascinated with the great strategies you give. Certain 4 ideas in this article are undoubtedly the most effective we have had.

    Reply
  • louboutin shoes#3

    January 8, 2019

    I must show my passion for your generosity giving support to women who require help with this important concept. Your special commitment to passing the solution all around was certainly informative and have surely allowed professionals much like me to arrive at their objectives. This insightful recommendations indicates this much a person like me and much more to my office colleagues. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.

    Reply
  • chrome hearts#4

    January 8, 2019

    I simply wanted to send a simple message to be able to express gratitude to you for those wonderful hints you are sharing at this website. My extended internet research has now been honored with incredibly good information to write about with my company. I would tell you that most of us readers actually are undeniably blessed to be in a useful website with very many awesome professionals with useful opinions. I feel very blessed to have encountered your web site and look forward to so many more awesome minutes reading here. Thank you once more for everything.

    Reply
  • crazy explosive#5

    January 7, 2019

    I have to show my appreciation for your generosity supporting women who absolutely need help with your area of interest. Your very own commitment to getting the message around was incredibly powerful and have regularly allowed people much like me to arrive at their ambitions. This important report means a great deal to me and further more to my office workers. With thanks; from each one of us.

    Reply
  • russell westbrook shoes#6

    January 5, 2019

    I have to show my respect for your generosity supporting folks who actually need help on that idea. Your personal commitment to getting the message all through came to be unbelievably informative and have without exception enabled ladies like me to get to their objectives. Your new warm and friendly suggestions can mean a lot to me and still more to my mates. Thanks a ton; from all of us.

    Reply
  • nike huarache#7

    January 4, 2019

    I happen to be commenting to let you know what a fine encounter my friend’s child experienced using your blog. She came to understand too many pieces, most notably what it’s like to have a great teaching spirit to get other people completely master specific tricky things. You truly did more than our expectations. I appreciate you for churning out the invaluable, healthy, educational and even cool thoughts on your topic to Gloria.

    Reply
  • golden goose sneakers#8

    January 3, 2019

    I simply had to thank you so much yet again. I do not know what I would’ve sorted out in the absence of those ideas revealed by you on that question. This has been a real traumatic situation in my opinion, however , considering a new expert avenue you managed that made me to jump over fulfillment. Now i am thankful for this help and even believe you comprehend what a great job you are always doing training men and women by way of your webblog. I know that you haven’t encountered any of us.

    Reply
  • yeezy#9

    January 3, 2019

    I want to show some thanks to this writer for rescuing me from this issue. As a result of scouting through the the web and meeting ideas which were not productive, I was thinking my entire life was done. Being alive without the presence of answers to the problems you have fixed as a result of your main article is a serious case, as well as the kind which may have badly damaged my entire career if I hadn’t come across your web site. Your own personal natural talent and kindness in playing with the whole lot was excellent. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t come upon such a stuff like this. It’s possible to at this moment look forward to my future. Thank you very much for the specialized and amazing guide. I won’t be reluctant to suggest the sites to anybody who requires recommendations on this subject matter.

    Reply
  • michael kors outlet store#10

    January 3, 2019

    My wife and i felt now fortunate when Jordan could complete his analysis by way of the precious recommendations he gained through your web page. It’s not at all simplistic to simply be handing out tips that many people today could have been trying to sell. And now we already know we now have you to thank for that. Most of the explanations you’ve made, the straightforward blog navigation, the relationships you will aid to foster – it’s everything great, and it is facilitating our son in addition to the family do think that subject is excellent, and that is wonderfully mandatory. Many thanks for the whole lot!

    Reply
  • nike air max#11

    January 2, 2019

    Thank you a lot for providing individuals with a very terrific chance to read in detail from this site. It really is so excellent and as well , packed with fun for me personally and my office colleagues to visit your site not less than three times in one week to learn the fresh guides you have. And lastly, I’m actually amazed with your incredible thoughts you give. Selected 4 tips in this posting are truly the finest we have ever had.

    Reply
  • curry 4#12

    January 1, 2019

    I and my pals came reading the nice tips and hints located on your web page and then before long I got a terrible feeling I had not expressed respect to the web blog owner for those strategies. These ladies ended up as a result excited to learn all of them and already have sincerely been taking advantage of those things. Thank you for actually being well kind and also for making a choice on this sort of wonderful areas millions of individuals are really desperate to learn about. My personal honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.

    Reply
  • ysl#13

    January 1, 2019

    I simply wanted to thank you very much once more. I am not sure the things that I might have sorted out in the absence of the entire methods discussed by you regarding that theme. Previously it was a depressing crisis in my opinion, nevertheless understanding your specialised mode you treated the issue made me to jump over contentment. Now i’m thankful for the support and sincerely hope you know what a powerful job you are carrying out teaching the rest by way of your site. I am sure you’ve never met all of us.

    Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *