“Have you talked to your grandma lately?” No, I haven’t.
“Did you wish your brother a happy birthday?” No, I didn’t.
“I really need to talk to you. Can I call?” …
It’s odd, the things we choose to prioritize. I remember sitting in my U101 class as a freshman and doing that little exercise where you scribble a bunch of objects, people and places onto notecards and then slowly whittle down the pile. In theory, the last remaining cards — all friends and family for me — should have been my top priorities.
I sure hadn't been acting like it.
I walked away from that class realizing I’d neglected my relationships from back home, so I made phone calls. I reaffirmed their importance to me and swore I'd do better. That was only a few months into college. Today I’m a junior, and I've never felt more isolated.
This fall marks the first time I've felt homesick since moving to Columbia in 2018. It's the first time I've felt alone, felt lost and craved those relationships that are so far away. Even so, I continue to prioritize work. I ignore phone calls and tell friends I'll get back to them with little intention of doing so. I desperately need my loved ones right now, yet I continue to deny myself that connection. To devote time to these relationships is to take time away from the work that will one day land me my dream job.
As a result, I haven't talked to some of my best friends and role models in weeks. Months. Since Christmas.
I've always been able to manage stress. When I have a task, I get it done, but it's getting harder. The question I've been asking myself lately is, at what cost?
Friends, consider your priorities. Not everybody in your life will be there when you wake up tomorrow. Call your grandma. Wish your brother a happy birthday. Tell your mom about your life. She'd love to know you're hanging in there, even if only by a thread.
I'm sure there is a sweet spot where you can successfully balance work and loved ones. That's something I'm still working on, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. I'll be devoting the next week to the people I've forgotten lately.
I want to be successful, but I also want people beside me to share in that success.
— Nick Sullivan, managing editor