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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

As a junior transfer to UCLA, I’ve repeatedly found myself facing the expected result of a larger day-to-day workload. Although my old school was also academically strenuous, the lifestyle I had created around my workload there was no longer viable at UCLA. I found myself cutting activities that I love out of my life in order to keep up with school. Although I do define myself primarily as a student, the idea of that role requiring the exclusivity of my identity is quite an uncomfortable feeling.

Recently, the most dreaded questions to hear have been “What are your hobbies?” or “What do you do in your free time?” Free time? What’s that? Even though my workload isn’t outrageous, and in fact is quite manageable, I find that there’s always something more that I could be doing academically. Releasing that expectation from myself to let myself relax or participate in these fabled “hobbies” I hear so much about is a lot more difficult than it looks. Even writing for Her Campus, an academically coded hobby I’ve taken up, is hard to convince myself that I’m participating in out of enjoyment rather than accomplishment. 

Letting myself embrace identities beyond schoolwork is something I’ve been trying to work on, and something more important than I let myself believe. Our lives are short, and the only inherent meaning I’ve let myself find is to do what I enjoy. In fact, that’s why I continue to push myself in the first place. I’m pushing myself to achieve a career that I could enjoy. But looking at it with tunneled vision is treating this time I’m currently wasting as nothing more than a means to an end. The life I’m living now is meant to be enjoyed just as much my future life is. That’s why it’s so urgent to embrace the writer, the climber, the dancer, and the lover in me with the same treatment I give to the student.

Ariana, or Aria, is a third year philosophy major at UCLA. She enjoys fashion, 19th and 20th century feminism novels, cartoons, shoegaze music, rock climbing, baking, and spending time with friends.