A broken phone or a black eye: What’s more important to you?

Alexandra Stettner

Alexandra Stettner
Alexandra Stettner

Two nights before the first day of classes, I got into a nasty spill on my bicycle. To me, it felt fairly dramatic; I was tumbling through space and time before eventually colliding with the ground. Of course, to the cars driving by, it must have looked comical. I hadn’t actually hit anything that would cause me to fall. Instead it was just me, pathetically losing my balance while trying to push my phone further into my back pocket to keep it from falling out.

I came out of the incident with a lovely black eye and a few more minor injuries. No broken bones, no permanent damage — no problem, right?

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Ultimately, I was much more distraught than I should have been. I am normally not one to care too much about my appearance, but as anyone who saw the girl with a black eye on campus this past week knows, it was not a pretty sight. I took a fairly large hit to my self-esteem. All my friends reassured me with the things that good friends should say: “It’ll go away eventually,” and, “It’s not that bad, really.” But I think most would agree that once you get those negative voices in your head, it can be difficult to tune them out.

Then I realized something: With the amount of muscles that were pulled in my leg, the pain in my knee, the crazy bruise on my hand and landing on my eye of all places, how did I not sustain more serious injuries? I was incredibly lucky that I didn’t come out with more damage, especially considering that I was on the side of Shields — a major, high-traffic street — at night.

To think that this happened all because I wanted to make sure my precious phone was not broken is a little ridiculous. Realistically, my phone probably would have been fine, but these days, smartphones possess such a strong power over a large part of our lives, even though this power may be an arbitrary illusion — so much so that people will look away from driving heavy machinery that is worth thousands more than a phone just to text someone back. In the big picture, our phones are a trivial thing that we take far too seriously.

By no means is this a generalization of all college students. I know many people who would be much more grateful than I, and on the flip-side, maybe even much less grateful after an incident like mine. Nonetheless, I do feel that in the hustle and bustle of our college days, between constant social interactions on campus, stress from class, financial strain, erratic work schedules and everything in between, we let the smallest of things get us down and eat away at our mental stamina. Despite the fact everything else in your life could be going great, some single event that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things can completely ruin your stride. Sometimes we choose to dwell on these things much longer than we need to. For example, rear-ending someone, even if it causes little to no damage, or seeing a Snapchat of friends hanging out without you while you’re studying.

As full-time students starting our own lives, we have so much going on between activities and responsibilities, and so our boiling points can drop pretty low. With that in mind, sometimes I can’t really blame you for being upset for a few extra hours when the coffee shop messes up your order in the morning.

However, stopping to smell the roses, I’ve learned, even in a metaphorical sense, is an incredible way to bring you back. Remind yourself of all the positive things you have to look forward to, or even those happening right now. As this semester goes on and the workload piles up, allow yourself to relax and don’t take the small things so seriously or let them run your life.

Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at hmcgill@collegian.com or on Twitter @alexstetts.