What I Learned from Black Swan

No, there really aren’t any spoilers below, so for all of your who intend to see this masterpiece of a film, Black Swan, fear not; I’m not ruining any surprises here. This is simply a rumination of mine, pertaining to a key lesson that I took away from this movie. That lesson is simple: Don’t overwork yourself or you will severely pay for it in the end.

Entering this previous semester at Emerson College, what was the start of my senior year, I figured that things would be calm(er than usual). I figured that I could maintain a great GPA while not over-exerting myself like I had the previous few semesters. Little did I know that this was far from true.

This past semester tested me like no other, and although I emerged victorious (don’t question my word choice there), I suffered this semester. I was spread far too thin, and had my hands in far too many projects. This resulted in me losing sleep, losing out on fun experiences (missed weekend getaways and just the general chance to enjoy my senior semester in Boston), and a very distorted sense of the working world.

As a result of my loss of sleep, I was sick more days than I was healthy, and yet still somehow foolishly went to classes, meetings, networking events, work, and my internship. I was walking around looking like something out of The Walking Dead more often than not. I became to tired to perform basic tasks such as exercise and even eating (yes, it was bad). I entered a strange cycle, where I would sleep less in order to finish work, and then ensuing work would take me longer to do than normal because I was tired and lacked focus, and as a result of spending too much time on that work, I would lose out on even more sleep, and so on…

Rambling aside, Natalie Portman’s character taught me that there is indeed a limit to which we can push ourselves. I don’t think I passed my limit this semester as her character in Black Swan did, but I surely flirted with my limit. Despite warnings from my roommate, my peers, and my family, it took me until now to realize how far off I was.

And so I leave with this – to all you college students who feel this sense of invincibility, go for it. Be unstoppable. Be great. But above all – be careful. Your health is far too important.

And to those who have seen the movie and read this blog post, and still don’t believe me, check out Julien Smith‘s infographic on the detrimental results of being overworked and losing sleep.

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