I have had many top priorities throughout my life; they change with whatever stage I’m in at the time. When I was 4 years old, my top priority was earning my yellow belt in karate. When I was 6, it was being cast as the ringleader (the role with the most lines, obviously) in our class production of “The Kindergarten Circus.” When I was 13, it was making the 7th grade volleyball B team. So on and so on.
This semester, the question of where my true priorities lie has weighed heavily on my mind. What am I allowing to be the most important thing in day to day life?
As I get further and further into major intensive courses, my academic workload has certainly increased; 400-level courses are not a walk in the park. Some days, it feels like my GPA is taking priority.
Other days, I am totally focused on the future. It’s time to find a good summer internship, and I feel like I’m drowning in the vast abyss of Handshake. Senior year and inevitable graduation is looming ever-closer — my future career is sometimes my primary concern.
Recently, the friendships in my life have been taking precedence. I’ve lost quite a bit of sleep to spontaneous Sonic runs this semester, and I accidentally overslept chapel a whopping three times last week because I had been up late solving the world’s problems with my best friend. As much as the academic try-hard ingrained within me is dismayed to admit, a few of my assignments this semester have been unfortunately substandard. (Mom, when you read this — I’m sorry. I promise I’m doing my homework most of the time.)
In all honesty, for a while I was pretty proud of myself for prioritizing my friendships this semester. Relationships should always be more important than maintaining a 4.0, I told myself. As the mounting pile of homework hunkered menacingly on the kitchen table and my handwritten reminders to submit my term paper outline glared angrily at me, I would shrug and trot out the door to go eat dinner with a friend, patting myself on the back for finally focusing on what was truly important in life.
Earlier this week, though, I was faced with an unappealing realization: friendships shouldn’t be my No. 1 priority. As I’m often prone to do, I’d fallen into a prideful trap of contentment, convinced that I was making a righteous decision every time I was with a friend rather than in the library. I had adopted a holier-than-thou attitude, and for that, I am very sorry.
Here’s the thing: friendships alone should not be our No. 1 priority — relationships should be. What’s the difference? A friendship is certainly one of the best relationships you can have, yes. But if we spend all our time loving the people who love us, what good are we really doing? Don’t even the tax collectors do that?
We should prioritize relationships. This includes your closest friends, but it also includes that classmate who gets on your last nerve every Tuesday and Thursday. It includes the physical resources workers you pass on your walk to class. It includes your least favorite professor and the student you disagree with politically. Relationships should be our top priority — the easy ones and the hard ones.
We should be mending broken and strained relationships first and foremost, not just strengthening the secure ones.
Emily Nicks is the opinions editor for The Bison. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.