There's a saying you may have heard of: ""Work hard, play hard.""
Yet there's no place for this to be more fitting than college. A place where habits for independently working hard are set and you can play the hardest.
Last weekend, I was playing hard in Las Vegas when I encountered an opportunity to learn some pointers from a local.
In the middle of the game room of the Bellagio, I spotted two people I instantly recognized: Josh and Mike from MTV's ""Tool Academy 2,"" a reality show where ""tool"" boyfriends are tricked into going into jackass rehab by their brat girlfriends.
Mike, known as ""Manscaping Tool,"" had a strong aura of überjerk. Josh, on the other hand, was somehow the first to get kicked off the show. He may not be the definition of a gentleman, yet he was unmistakably the most intelligent and the least tool-like — despite his overly styled hair and title of ""Spray Tan Tool."" This college graduate with a degree in criminal justice had advice for us Wildcats.
Perhaps quoting Benjamin Franklin, Josh wisely revealed, ""College is about having fun. Get f***ed up, but do it to your limit and finish school.""
In contrast to the prevailing stereotypes about Greek Life, he also said that from his fraternity experience, ""pledging was the best part."" Indeed, although our university is demolishing the ability of students to have fun, fraternities still offer a great way to make strong friendships and have an affordable place to live on campus. Lastly, offering advice for having a stress-free lifestyle, Josh grinned and said, ""Don't take reality so seriously — everything's not as serious as you think.""
The underlying message is that by working hard and getting your work out of the way, you can perform well, avoid stress and feel free to reward yourself with whatever you like to do to have fun. There are, however, some other habits that could help you get a sense of balance and strength in your life.
The first good habit is to start your day off right and eat breakfast. It's good for your metabolism, great for your energy throughout the day, and gives you a few minutes between rolling out of bed and being bombarded by facts for an hour. To end the day right, get at least four hours of sleep — all-nighters demolish productivity like a yard-tall margarita from the Sin City destroys sobriety.
The next habit is to develop a good attitude. Try to be positive and soon enough you won't have to try anymore. Be assertive — patience has its times, but don't waste time and energy waiting for things to come your way or fooling around until you feel like you can't put off work anymore. Taking breaks is important, but get some work done in between classes before you let an hour wither away on stupid Web sites that won't make your life at the end of the semester any better.
Finally: work out. Playing hard can take a toll on your body, so the better shape you're in, the more you can do and the quicker you can recover. We have a solid Student Recreation Center; go there! Just remember that being in shape isn't a license to be a MTV-status fool, so you should also make a habit out of being a decent person and acquiring enough intelligence to not be a waste of space.
Ultimately, being in control of your life and achieving your goals is about creating good habits towards a successful and enjoyable life. Aim for the middle ground between the extremes of being a workaholic and being a tool. For many of us, the independent and pre-reality environment of college is where these habits are founded. What habits are you building?
— Daniel Greenberg is a Near Eastern studies senior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org