I have to put “reading” off my priority list, but that’s okay

My life is messy. I feel so totally out of control in every area of my life. I am afraid I won’t be able to turn in my paper, or take part in the seminar in Ukraine, or do my work at AIESEC. I am afraid I will resent everything and that my everyday life will be just gray, gray, gray. I keep thinking, there just isn’t enough TIME! I will never be able to finish everything!

Maybe I won’t. So what?

I am learning to place more value on the process than I used to. Doing 98% is better than doing 0% because I’m afraid I won’t be able to reach 100%, or doing only 50% because I let that fear hold me too long and I started too late because of that.

I identify myself as a reader. I take pride in that, and comfort, too. Reading is just part of my life. Reading outside of school has never been a burden to me. I am constantly learning new things through books and developing compassion.
But lately, I never felt happy reading a book. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I kept getting rid of books, thinking I am reading only books that give me no value. As of today, however, I think the problem is not the books themselves but my relationship to them. I see an unread book and think: I should read that. I see a book I’ve already read before, remember the good time I had, and think: I want to re-read that!

Sometimes, though, life demands your full attention.
I see my 53 years old mother working 10+ hours every day, enduring brutal commutes in an overpopulated city, with only 5 days of vacation per year (but de facto zero, actually, because the employers pressure the employees into not taking any day off). For my mother, who first entered the workforce at the age of 40, left it again only four years later and to re-enter it after a 9-year-break, it means she has to give everything she has to her work. Her work fulfills her in a way that nothing else can right now. She needs to do this to take care of herself. So she pours herself into it and has little time or energy left to devote herself to anything else.
I see my cousin who is in military service right now. Instead of sitting in lecture halls, instead of pulling all-nighters to write an essay, instead of hanging out with his friends and having fun, he is experiencing something totally out of his realm; something that he hadn’t known before.
When life demands your full attention, you have to give it if you don’t want to go under. You can’t cling to your old habits and routines and hobbies. New cards have been dealt. Adapt or miss the chance.

I don’t want to go under. I don’t want to miss the opportunities. So I have to give my full attention to school, and to AIESEC secondarily. I won’t be able to read long, difficult books on feminism, history, literature. I won’t be able to write long, elaborate reviews. I won’t be able to watch movies every week.

But that’s okay, because I have some really important chances I don’t want to miss. It has taken me a long time to finally see the right priority; but I see it now, and I’m fine with it. I’ll probably be able to read The Imitation Game or complicated classics in the summer break for a little bit between the exams, the seminar, the paper and hopefully an internship.

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