A buddy of mine texted me about something that happened in his literature class today. His professor asked him if he had read any Kafka before, to which he replied he hadn’t. He told his professor, however, that I was a big fan. His professor then told him, “Your friend sounds like he’s either a cynical asshole or he’s a philosophy major.” My friend answered that I was both. He also texted me he was at the hospital from over-exhaustion.
We talk on a regular basis even though our schools are far apart. He’s a hard worker, and he’s a big believer in doing things himself if he wants them done right. He takes part in a lot of on- and off-campus organizations, and I admire him for his drive and dedication. Not only that, he’s a big ol’ teddy bear who’ll throw aside everything he’s doing at the moment to help someone in need. He’s got a bigger heart than I’ll ever have, and even though I don’t see him often, I know that, wherever he is, he’s always making sure those around him are taken care of. He’s one of those guys — you’re not only proud to have a friend like him, but also to know a person like him.
I was shocked to hear that he had to be rushed to the hospital when his legs buckled underneath him after a long day of classes and meetings that had carried over from the day before. He was working until 3:30 in the morning at his internship, and he had been under a lot of duress. Schoolwork had been brutal, too; he’s planning to graduate a semester early from a top university.
Guys like him, they seem built to withstand anything. I’ve called out his mother, his car, his unborn daughter, his sports teams, and again, his mother. He laughs it off, turns right around, and makes fun me without missing a beat. You know someone like him – those people aren’t supposed buckle like that, you think, because they represent a romantic idea of an indomitable will inside them. It’s not about a halo effect, but rather personally knowing their constitution and who they are. I’ve known him since high school. We’ve spent countless hours together.
“That guy,” you say about him, “nothing can stop that guy.”
But there he was, texting me about getting rushed to the ER.
He told me that he took a weeklong sabbatical from his extracurriculars. He’s heading back home for the weekend to relax and recharge. He’ll be ramping things up again come Monday.
I struggled for words. I ended up telling him that there are people who care about him deeply – that, for his sake and ours, he take care of himself. I couldn’t muster much else say, because there’s not much to say except for what we both already know.
Maybe this piece should segue into a discussion about the academic pressure we students face; maybe it should talk about the link between social networking and the lack of human interactions and the resulting fallout; maybe it should be used as anecdotal evidence that, again, the discussion of mental health must come to the forefront in this country. Especially with the recent suicides at Penn, a lot could be said.
I suggest an alternative:
Let’s listen instead.