I Dream in Pixels: Playing the fool

It’s finals week—or near enough to count. The papers are piling up, exams are looming like the Angel of Death and I’m beginning to shake from all the coffee I’ve ingested. Tensions are, to put it mildly, high, and any notion of taking a moment to relax is akin to an invitation from the devil to accept an F and live out your life as a bum. So why is it, then, that tonight I’m eating time with an impromptu round of karaoke with at least one too many Journey songs?

There seems to often exist within academia—especially undergrad—the belief that there are two groups of people: the bookworms and the party animals. The former relinquishes their health, their friends and their happiness for the sake of their grades and usually sees that hard work pay off. The latter spends their night cozying up not to their textbook but a pint of beer, opting to enjoy their time at college even if it means they might not be allowed to return next year.

For whatever reason, these stereotypes never quite match up with the people I’ve met at Maryville College, who run the gambit from 4.0 sustaining freaks of nature to the those who are doing their best just to hang on to their scholarships—neither of whom I would describe as would-be frat boys and sorority girls.

Nevertheless, the idea that you need to and, nay, ought to sacrifice your own happiness for the sake of your grades is a persistent concern, not only amongst my friends, but myself as well. You could always be studying more, taking better notes, seeking out better sources and meeting with more professors. But, is it worth it?

Earlier this month I made the spontaneous (and somewhat ridiculous) purchase of a “Dance Dance Revolution” (DDR) pad for my dusty PS2. I cannot dance. I have never played DDR. And yet, here I was, in my living room, flailing around as if I was attempting to practice for an interpretive dance production of “Stomp.” And I was loving every moment of it.

As the end of the semester has approached, I’ve begun to jump back into video games, which I had largely abandoned for most of the year due to lack of time and waning interest. The games I’ve gravitated towards, however, are not the grimdark shooters and RPGs I once loved. Nor are they even the happy-go-lucky sidescrollers for which I have such tremendous nostalgia. No, the games I want to play these days are games that make me laugh with my friends.

It is something of a cruel joke how quickly four years go by. Though I am only a sophomore, I’ve already gone through the gut-wrenching experience of seeing friends graduate, drop out or transfer. I’ve begun to savor every moment I get to spend with the amazing people who surround me, too many of whom I still hardly know.

This article might seem to have little to do with video games, but it is video games that ultimately reminded me of how good it feels to be silly with friends, even if it means sacrificing a few hours of studying that may or may not have mattered in the end. They’ve highlighted how overly seriously I’ve been taking myself, how I’ve been failing to let others in and the things I’ve sacrificed for the sake of grades.

.Allowing yourself to be honest and ridiculous with friends is not only freeing and cathartic, but I’d argue it’s necessary for personal growth and stability. Do not destroy your GPA for the sake of taking a night off, but as finals approach and we say our goodbyes, take at least a moment to reflect on the time you’ve spent this semester and how it was spent. I guarantee you’ll remember singing a duet of “Carry on My Wayward Son” more fondly than any number of hours spent in a textbook’s cold embrace.

Take care of your grades, but take care of yourself too.

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