I woke up at 11:00 a.m. yesterday. To the average college student, this is not a big deal. But, to those who know me, they know that my college experience can be summed up in one word: “Overwhelming.” I distinctly remember in the days leading up to the first day of my freshman year telling myself, “You are going to say yes to every opportunity. You are going to do it all.” After all my posters were hung up, my egg carton mattress topper was placed just so and awkward hellos were said to my roommate, I hopped on to do just that.
The next three and a half years were just positively overfilled with experiences. I had an internship every semester, I conducted research and served as a teaching assistant for the Art History department, wrote and edited for The Mirror, studied abroad Sophomore year, worked on two campaigns and more, all while maintaining a social life and my grades. It’s an exhausting way to live and was funded only by my lack of sleep and caffeine addiction.
This semester, my last semester of college, I was set to do it all over again. I had an internship, five classes and a pack of sugar-free energy drinks to start the semester off with. But, in the days before the semester started, my internship was canceled due to COVID. Now, this is a disappointing situation, but what I as well as all of my friends were most worried about was, what I was going to do with my free time? I now had three full days completely empty of any activities. Twelve whole hours full of just nothing. Yikes!
But, two weeks into the semester, I’ll tell you I’m loving all this free time. I wake up when I want, make a coffee, go to the gym, read a book, watch a show and it doesn’t matter what I do, I just have the free time to do it. It’s completely and utterly glorious. I feel like a wealthy stay-at-home mom in my patterned pajama pants and slippers, just hanging out all day at home.
I still have things to keep me somewhat occupied, but I’m not overwhelmed and this newfound feeling has me rethinking the past few years. I did too much. That’s the takeaway here. As a senior now, I’ve realized that there’s only so much room on a resume, only so many things you can add to LinkedIn, and it’s truly the memories where you’re “doing nothing” that matter the most.
I’m not going to be 65 years old and remember that I did question and answer sessions for parent engagement twice, but I will remember the days I went to Dunkin Donuts at 2 a.m. with my roommates. I’ll remember trips to watch the sunset or the sunrise. I’ll remember the Thursday nights with cheap bottles of wine and the painful Friday mornings struggling through an egg sandwich in the Tully. I’ll remember the late nights in the library fooling around with friends instead of studying and the snow days with my roommate where we watched “Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
The hardest thing about college is finding balance. You’re probably alone for the first time in your life. You’re able to make all your own decisions and thus sometimes it’s tricky to know which decision is the right one. I don’t regret the things I’ve done at Fairfield, or what I’ve chosen to do with my time, but I do urge any of the younger students reading this to find a better balance than I did.
Pick one activity, maybe two, but spend most of your time with the people you care about. When I graduate, I’ll miss the time in my life I was walking distance from my friends and more free time than I’ll ever have again.
I can’t pressure you enough to make the most of your time here. Ask friends to dinner, go to clubs you wanted to go to Freshman year, take a Friday night and go out to dinner. I’m telling you now, four years fly by in just a blink of an eye, so make the most of it.