Recently I’ve come across several students who’ve been doing homework until the wee hours of the morning. It seems to be afflicting perfectionists, many of which are music majors who stay in Mason Hall for an uncomfortably long time.
What’s particularly disturbing is that these students take a perverse pride in their unsustainable work ethic: “Look how great I am for doing homework until 5 a.m.”
The troubling part of this is that perfectionist students become perfectionist adults. This cycle never ends, that is, until some catastrophe happens–an illness, a divorce, a complete psychotic breakdown–that forces the person to a halt. Then, the person can finally become calm, go to bed, and think clearly for the first time since she was 12-years-old.
This strikes me as a particularly terrible way to live a life. Here’s what I’d do in my Utopian world in which I am The King Of Everything:
- I’d close Mason Hall at 11 p.m. Get out. Go to bed, even if you don’t feel like all your work is done. This is healthy.
- Any time a student said, “I stayed up until 5 a.m. doing homework,” I would slap them across the face. This would be a tremendous source of shame, since I am The King Of Everything in this world.
- Any time a student bragged about getting a 4.0 I would slap them across the face, twice, one for each cheek. I would repeat this indefinitely until the person understands that their 4.0 is meaningless in the real world.
- If anyone tried to get back into Mason Hall after 11 p.m., me and my University Police buddies would come find them, drag them back to their dorm, and chain them to their beds until they fell asleep.
- If a student were found crying in the bathroom because she got a ‘B’ instead of an ‘A’, we would throw her a party, celebrating her becoming a better human being.
- And if, at the end of college, she actually came to enjoy the learning process instead of dreading it, and kept wanting to learn on her own afterwards, my job as The King Of Everything would have been done well.
[No perfectionists were harmed in the writing of this blog post.]