It happens about this time every semester – grad students hunker down for midterms, group projects, interviews, leadership roles, and extracurricular activities – all important elements for a commanding GPA and desirable resume. But something has to go to make time – and the first thing to go is FUN.
Let me tell you why that’s a bad idea.
No matter how hard you study or how well you interview, it is not humanly possible to excel at everything all the time. Sometimes your project won’t be the best in class; you’ll get a “B” on your midterm, or that silly recruiter won’t choose to interview you. There’s only one way to make it through life’s hard knocks.
You guessed it – FUN.
Fact is, having fun makes you resilient and helps develop a support network to get you through life’s challenges. Believe or not, life can get a lot tougher than a bad exam score. In fact, there is no better example of the power of fun than funerals. You gather to mourn an unspeakable loss, crying, hugging and speaking in hushed tones. Then, something unexpected happens: somebody laughs.
While it initially seems inappropriate, everyone is drawn to it. As you get closer, you hear someone say, “that reminds me of the time when (insert name of deceased) drove his dad’s Lexus into the bay…” Pretty soon everyone is laughing through their tears, recalling the endearing quirks and funny habits of the dearly departed. Levity makes the loss bearable.
Bad things can happen anytime, making it critical to schedule preemptive fun. You do remember fun, don’t you? Think back to when you were ten years old. Remember how you felt the first time you rode a two-wheel bike or skateboard or roller blades without incurring physical trauma? Remember the great play you made in soccer or tennis? Remember when you won the science fair or spelling bee? That whole-body exhilaration you felt was FUN!
The kind of fun that protects you during stressful times has three distinctive characteristics, and brain science behind it:
- You feel extreme joy, producing serotonin, the happy hormone
- You are active, generating adrenalin
- You’re with other people, producing oxytocin which facilitates bonding
That sounds more like a chemistry lesson than an exercise in fun, but it’s actually pretty easy. Think of things you like to do that are active, involve others, and make you happy. For obvious reasons, merely enjoyable activities like reading or playing video games don’t make the cut. Playing sports with friends works. So does going dancing with your roommates. Anything that meets all three criteria will do.
You should absolutely continue to study hard and polish those interview skills. Just remember to also develop your resilience and ability to deal with disappointment. Now go out there and have FUN!
Marilyn is the Assistant Director of Graduate and Alumni Career Services at Bentley University. She brings an uncanny ability quickly discern strengths and differentiators and turn this knowledge into strategic career plans. She is passionate about equipping graduate students and alumni with cutting edge skills. Marilyn has a great deal of corporate experience, primarily in the technology, biotech and healthcare industries. She is a long-time user of social media (she was mentioned in Fast Company’s “Most Influential People Online 2010”). She holds degrees in Psychology and Public Administration from The Florida State University. Marilyn immigrated from Cuba as a child and is bilingual. She is active in Boston’s Hispanic business community.