Finding intellectual fulfillment

Walk anywhere on campus, and you’ll find a never-ending array of posters advertising events, parties and get-togethers put on by student organizations and academic departments alike. At times, the number of events happening on campus can seem overwhelming. There are so many attempts to get our attention that at times it may seem like one big waste of energy–considering how much we already have going on.

While overcommitting yourself can be dangerous to one’s mental health, when correctly balanced, part of being a Gustavus student is being involved. Not only are student organizations important to student life, like I discussed last week, but being connected to your department and other people in your major is also vital.

Connecting with other like- minded individuals with similar academic interests to you can be much more refreshing than you might think.

This is one part of Gustavus life that, in my opinion, is missing. There is only so much time that we get to spend on a college campus among such highly educated people and on a campus brimming with opportunities to expand our minds and challenge our understanding of the world around us. Sometimes, as busy college students concerned with friendships, relationships, student organizations, jobs and everything in between, we forget why we are actually here.

I have never understood when my peers seem to hate every class they take or laugh at the idea of attending one more lecture than what is required of them. Why else are we here but to learn and explore the things that we are passionate about? To not question our thoughts and the way that we, as individuals, understand the world is denying ourselves the adventure of figuring it out.

Socrates once said that, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” This really resonates with me. To go through life just by getting through things until they are over seems so unfulfilling. While it’s obvious that there are going to be some topics that are simply pointless to us individually, to find all pursuits of knowledge a waste of time is the easy way out. To not challenge yourself  to branch out leads to a stagnant or uninteresting life.

The idea in our culture that we only get a college degree to graduate and get a job that pays well is toxic. It is so much more than that. If you don’t use these years in your life to think critically about things and learn as much as you can, it may as well just be a waste of time. If we are spending so much money to be here, we should at least take advantage of it.

It can’t be a very enjoyable time at college if you don’t try to connect to your classes and your professors. In my experience, doing work for something that you are passionate about or interested in makes it so much easier to focus on tasks and get things done. While every class and subject has an aspect of stress and hardwork to it, it certainly makes it easier to enjoy the topic you are learning about.

So, while it may seem to be pointless to go to that lecture your professor is advertising, I guarantee it is not, especially if it is related to a topic you are interested in. There truly have been times I’ve gone to an academic event just on a whim or simply for the extra credit and came out having learned something fascinating that changed the way that I understand everything.

You might be surprised just how many events there are to attend that academic departments put on. Just take a harder look at all those posters and I’m sure you’ll find something that will  pique your interest. Don’t tune out your professor next time they start to advertise someone that they are bringing to campus or someone that the department as a whole has worked hard to welcome so they can share their hard work. These visitors give students an opportunity to hear from people who are truly experts in their field and to connect what they are learning in the classroom to the outside world.