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En Route #18


Settling Back In

There’s very little I love more than a day off. I think for most of us, a day off can often be just what we needed to recenter and refocus ourselves. Getting the rest you need ensures that you’re productive when you need to be, and sane when you want to be (or vice versa, depending on the time of year). Having come through Fall semester relatively unscathed (critiques aside), Spring represents a new chance to make the most of the time we have left. Sound too ominous? Well let’s put it like this, learning to manage your class days also means learning to manage your off days. Free time should allow for splashing around and not sinking into the deep end.

I knew going into this semester that 5 days off in a row would not only be hazardous to my work ethic but also to my mental health. As much as we students are loath to admit it, you can have too much of a good thing, we just often can’t afford it. In some ways, we’re less wary of killer schedules than we are of seemingly breezy ones. I asked you to envy my behemoth weekend, but I must admit, I don’t think it’s all that worthy of envy. Now this may be the point when you get your torches and pitchforks and wonder how on Earth a student could admit such a thing, but just give me a few more sentences to change your mind. Free time is dangerous for us. We might as well be kids loose in a candy store when it comes to getting offered unstructured time in a relatively structured system. All in all, it’s just not a great idea.

Thus, the eternal question springs to mind: Is it truly possible to get things done on the weekend? Well it’s a question I’m going to have to answer for myself if I want to do fun things like pass my classes and graduate college. Hence my creation of a set of guidelines I’m going to test pilot this week in a search for equilibrium. First, if I’m going to goof off, I’m going to get it done early. The most obvious advantage to my extended weekend is that (right now at least) I have a lot of time on my hands. Therefore, if I’m going to be irresponsible, I’m going to get it out of the way during Act I in order to avoid any tragedies in Act III. In this way I really can’t be sad about having a Friday morning class as it forces me to reset in and provides a dose of productive momentum as I head into the second leg of my weekend. I hate to admit it as a staunch supporter of not rising before the sun, waking up early does in fact give me more hours in the day.

As I put my plan into action, I gleefully slept in on Wednesday, happy to laze about on Netflix (I’m currently watching The Empress for my period drama fix) and sent a few emails before calling it a day. The real fun came on Thursday as a friend and I headed to the Musée de l’Orangerie in order to get some human interaction and artistic inspiration. We spent about an hour admiring the various paintings. Monet’s water lilies are of course the most popular attraction and I do have to admit they are more than worth the trip. After that, we participated in one of my favorite Parisian pastimes and took a stroll along the Seine, an activity that never fails to lift my spirits no matter how gloomy the weather. We walked down to the Grand Palais then turned around and headed back to Notre Dame for dinner near my apartment.

By the time Friday rolls around I’m usually ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Unlike last semester where we spent the first half frolicking amidst the clouds and the second falling to the ground, Spring semester has revealed its true colors right from the start. With project deadlines already staring us down, and graduation not far behind, I’m determined not to waste my weekends. Time is a luxury I can currently afford and I intend to make the most of it now instead of wishing I did things differently months down the line. There is a very real part of me that realizes that this really is my last chance to get it right, if that doesn’t sound too fatalistic. My time in college is coming to an end which begs another, if slightly more rhetorical, question: If not now, when?

If you do happen to have some extra time on your hands, I would urge you to enjoy it to the fullest, while also making sure to set yourself up for success. So much of life is finding ways to make it easier for ourselves, even if it’s not right away. Take it from someone who has done it both ways, you’d rather make a few sacrifices now than make twice as many later. It really is possible to give yourself a free day, so long as you’re committed to actually working once it’s over. In the meantime, stop and smell the water lilies when you can.

Best of luck!

f t p