When you’re eating healthy, if you go for 2 days without eating much vegetables, you start longing for a salad or a luscious tomato sauce. But when you eat unhealthy, including lots of sugar, your body begins to crave sugar to the extent that it forgets its healthy cravings for fruits and vegetables or proteins.
That craving for sugar that excludes the healthy cravings is a metaphor for what it’s like when one loses perspective. Perspective, according to the World Dictionary (see dictionary.com) means: “1. a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance, and 2. the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity.” When we’ve lost perspective, for whatever reason, whether that be internal or external, through our own fault or through no fault of our own, we tend towards being overly sensitive, myopic, self-absorbed, apathetic, or excessively driven. We lose some of the joy and wonder of life.
The idea of losing perspective is helpful because it is easier to see how we can all lose perspective (lack of sleep being a significant temporary cause of that!), and it is not simply something that those struggling with mental illnesses suffer from. It becomes less of an us vs. them situation and more of a sense that we are all struggling together. We all need grace and ought to extend it to each other, recognizing that we can’t fix each others faulty visions but only meet each other where we’re at.
At the same time, the idea of losing perspective is made more complicated when talking to grad students (and faculty or any professional). One needs a certain amount of crazy drivenness to get through grad school (or to achieve any other long and challenging goal), and that drivenness tends not always to leave room for balance or enough perspective on life. The question then is when it is good to lose perspective for the sake of accomplishing a good goal and when, through devoting so much of oneself to one’s discipline and the necessary accomplishments, one runs the risk of not only losing perspective but also oneself, especially if the solidary devotion becomes a life-long pattern.
I don’t know the answer to this question, and I expect for everyone the answer is different. It might not even be the best question or phrasing of it! At the same time, I feel honoured that I can walk alongside others as they struggle to find the answer that fits their gifts and who God has formed them to be.