Last week, as I was talking to Gisella, she—so eagerly—had been researching about the brain for her POL that she couldn’t shut up about it. She was cute about it, so I listened. Surprisingly, although I’m not what you’d call “a bio person” the studies she commented on where of extreme relevance. We all know that, as humans, we’re the most sophisticated, logical and developed creatures on earth: we’ve invented hierarchic systems, revolutionized the esthetics of our surroundings, and communicate coherently--well, at least that’s what we like to believe--amongst us. But, a great portion of what actually makes us humans is our freedom of choice—what we choose to do and when we chose to do it. But WHY do we chose to do it becomes the star team player when taking decisions.
As I’ve grown this semester, I’ve learned that school, like any thing, is not torture if you don’t allow it to. As stress levels rise around me, it has become more and more evident that there’s a lethargic inertia to whine about the amount of work we have on our backs, rather that thinking clearly, prioritizing and getting your sh** done. And, my straightforward tone goes to every one who procrastinates. Because, come on, who doesn’t once in a while? You spend an hour looking at your screen, sharing your irritation over school through every possible social medium, trying to come up with reasons to justify why you shouldn’t do your work in the moment. Bad news people: you’ve got to do it.
The thing is that every time we finish taking a decision, we trick ourselves to believing we’ve taken the best and most beneficial choice because we’ve evaluated the why and the why not we should do it, considering every possible consequence, the opportunity costs, etc., but we’re not necessarily choosing smartly. Yet, we still think we have because our rational brain, instead of helping us take rational decisions—ironic as it might be--is rationalizing our temptations: temptation to watch a series over organizing your room, temptation to stay on Facebook rather than sleeping early, temptation to eat something ridiculously high in fat and harming to our bodies rather than keeping it clean and healthy, and—in my case—temptation to go out for sushi-girl-night rather than doing my work. The thing is, I actually know that the few assignments I need to complete next week are critical to my personal growth, something that will synthesize a year of learning, and most importantly, something I’ll remember in the long run as a success or a failure to my own self.
Thankfully, I was skeptical towards these temptations right before it was too late. Just in time I noticed that that the “I deserve it” voice of my conscience was there to influence me negatively, attempting to excuse my own rational knowledge and tricking me to think eating-out was the smartest alternative. Getting a dose of fun on a Friday night might be the best thing to do in order to clear my mind if this was any other weekend, but specially this week I cannot afford losing any time. At this point, even sleep is a more ‘rational’ investment.
But short-term, the idea of 20 maki’s and friend-chit-chat is far more amusing.
A clear proof of this is Gonchi. Very different from most scattered teenagers (and the reason why he's probably so effective in school) he knows what is important for him--soccer, family, education--and does not let his pursuit for any of them get in the way of the other. He always tells me that knowing that he has a pichanga (what we call a casual soccer match here in Peru) at night, is what pushes him to stop procrastinating and work hastily until the time to put on his ‘chimpunes’ comes in. I envy his determination. More so, the balance between recreation—in this case a sport—and work, gives him the ability to have clearer thoughts, further improving his performance, of course not only in court, but in the quality of the work he produces afterwards.
So I took his technique and made it mine. I decided I would not leave my house tonight if I hadn’t finished one of the tasks due Monday. It’s 8:30 and I’ve finished dumping my reflection on paper, all because I conditioned myself to do it. I wouldn’t have imagined that putting work before recreation would allow me to do both. I’ve figured that as teenagers, as rebellious as we might feel on acting at times, there are perks to prioritizing rationally. Now, I’ve got to go--just in time for the last round of sushi :)