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(Occasionally) “taking the L”: A cost-benefit analysis of senior fall

by Sahana Srinivasan, Winged Post Editor-in-chief

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Cost-benefit analysis: It’s one of the most fundamental concepts of economics, something 100 of our upperclassmen learn every September and then again three days before May exams. For those of you not familiar with economics, it boils down to this: Is what you put into something worth what you get out of it?

Is the information gleaned from an extra hour of cramming in the middle of the night worth the loss of sleep?

Is the grade you’re presumably pursuing worth the dark circles?

Is the class worth sacrificing a little bit of your health?

I’ll be the first to admit that, even after taking economics, I never looked at any of my activities or academics like that. What I gave up in pursuit of something more didn’t seem important; I rarely ever took it into consideration.

Time after time, I picked the extra hour of cramming, never thinking about the alternative. Sure, I hung out with my friends a lot, and I tore through Netflix like it was a by-the-hour job, but I never gave anything less than what I thought was my best, all day, every day, with no cost consideration involved.

The obligation to always go the extra mile wasn’t only a societal imposition. I wanted my best, and I felt guilty and stressed for doing anything less.

About a year ago, though, I started to hit a wall. I wouldn’t say I burnt out, but I finally arrived at a point where I couldn’t balance work and relaxation in the same ratio I previously had.

Everything about my aforementioned life philosophy indicated I should up my commitment to work and accommodate the loss of free time. But as you can probably guess, I decided to deviate—at first out of a desire to hold onto my relaxed younger years, and then out of a stubborn belief that I deserved to finally start considering the cost of what I was doing on my health and my happiness.

Was the extra college or internship or club application worth the time writing the essays? Or the time I’d be putting into that activity? Or the activity itself?

If it wasn’t, then I said no, even if one could argue it was a more productive choice than not doing anything at all.

I know that I could theoretically find the time to participate in more activities or study an extra hour even when I feel I’m done, but I no longer want to. I can finally acknowledge that some things just aren’t worth the time.

My new, harsher criteria of what my time is worth means that sometimes I take a loss, accepting not having done my best, for the sake of sleeping a little more, relaxing a little more or feeling a little happier, when two years ago I would have done whatever I could to fit in everything.

Sometimes I turn in an essay I’m not close to satisfied with.

Sometimes I watch a couple hours of TV on weeknights instead of doing homework, as I’m sure my parents could tell you.

Sometimes instead of working on apps when I’m far behind, I get dinner with my friends or family.

And that’s worth my time.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on November 16, 2017.

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(Occasionally) “taking the L”: A cost-benefit analysis of senior fall