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Plugged out

Emily Schrank | Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two weeks ago, my computer crashed.

All of the papers, projects and any other assignments I had spent countless hours slaving over were gone. Just like that.

Despite these seemingly huge losses, I think the computer crash actually helped me more than it hurt. In a strange way, I learned some invaluable lessons.

Sure, when it first happened, I absolutely panicked. It seemed like the end of the world. How could all of the major academic pieces of my college career be gone?

But then I began to realize: It doesn’t matter. In the end, you can’t take it with you. Nothing is permanent. And even though all of those things seem so important now, they really aren’t.

I think many Notre Dame students become too wrapped up with their grades and their GPAs. It’s certainly something I’m guilty of, too. But I’m going to say something that may shock many of you actually reading this — they don’t really matter. The worry and anxiety just isn’t worth it.

Once I graduate and begin my first job (whatever it is and wherever it may be), the things I’ve learned in the classrooms here at Notre Dame, while interesting and informative, won’t actually help me in any way. Future employers won’t care about any of those papers or projects and the time I spent working on them.

Life in the “real” world cannot be taught; it can only be experienced. No matter how much we do learn from our professors, nothing they teach us can possibly prepare us for that first day at our new job or anything we will encounter in our careers.

I’m certainly not saying my time at Notre Dame has been a waste or that I have not learned anything. If anything, it’s taught me what really matters in life and what, quite simply, doesn’t.

The computer crash also taught me that it’s actually okay to be a little bit disconnected from the world around you every once in a while. Surprisingly, it’s really refreshing.

Sure, I have a “smart” phone, so I still had access to my email, but it was pretty liberating not to be constantly “plugged in.”

I know the world today thrives on technology, but sometimes we really should take a break from it. Not being able to tweet or see the latest status updates on Facebook may seem challenging at first, but I guarantee if you try it, you’ll find it just as liberating as I did.

Although my break from technology wasn’t by choice, I’m certainly glad it happened. It allowed me to take stock and reevaluate what really matters in my life. Some things just aren’t worth worrying or getting worked up about.

So, don’t sweat the small stuff, no matter how big it may seem — including a computer crash.

Contact Emily Schrank at eschrank@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.