Ask a fifth-year: Avoiding winter break blues

Dear Will,

So, we have this super long winter break coming up. It will be nice to relax and be at home, but I’m worried I’m going to get lonely and bored. Any recommendations on what I should do for the whole month of December?

Homebound in Hiett


Dear Homebound,

Most people are so excited to get away from campus for a while that they don’t think about boredom or loneliness until it hits them right in the face about two weeks into the break. That’s why it’s really important that you know about ‘Lawrence Withdrawal,’ and ways to enjoy the holiday season and being at home.

‘Lawrence Withdrawal’ is what happens when you go from the stressful and regulated environment of Fall Term into weeks of laziness and social isolation. Those of you who are introverted might find this really exciting, but trust me, after 11 weeks of constantly adjusting to Lawrence stress, you’re going to discover that winter break is pretty disorienting.

So, a week or two after Thanksgiving, you’ll have watched all six seasons of “Lost,” caught up on “The Walking Dead” and, without fail, will routinely wander to the fridge every 20 minutes, disappointed to find that you’ve already eaten pretty much anything that isn’t salad dressing. I probably don’t have to tell you that you won’t like carrying on like this for much longer.

The first thing you should do is call up some friends, if you haven’t already. People you like, for sure. Don’t call people you don’t like just for the sake of company, even if you’re desperate. And you may even find that after being around your new Lawrence friends for so long, you fondness for some of your past acquaintances has faded.

Just make sure you’re aware that your home friends are going to have surprisingly different mannerisms and behaviors than your Lawrence crowd. But this is definitely not a good reason to avoid them. You need socialization and having an open mind to the different ways that people interact is good practice for when you have to operate in the real world.

Keeping busy might sound like a really unattractive prospect, but trust me, being creative is something that everyone can and should do. Find something you don’t hate doing, like writing or baking, and just do it for fun. You obviously have the time. My first winter break, I built an elaborate gingerbread cathedral completely from scratch, complete with flying buttresses and candy stained glass windows.

I had never built anything with food before. I just woke up one day and decided it was to be. So, let yourself try something you never had thought you’d want or need to do. And after a healthy dose of Lawrence liberal arts, you’ll find that exploring new things is pretty easy.

From the very beginning of break, however, make sure you’re keeping in touch with your Lawrence friends, as well. It has always surprised me, every winter and summer break, how bad people actually are at maintaining contact. Facebook is useful for acquaintances, but try doing something more creative, like writing a handwritten letter or giving them an actual visit.

Again, Lawrence Withdrawal seems like a pretty trivial problem, but it’s something that’s going to be remarkably annoying for someone who hasn’t experienced it before—and trust me, your family members will be annoyed, too. Just be prepared, and don’t let yourself zone out for too long. There’s only so much Netflix to be watched, you know.

Burning metaphysical questions, annoying roommate problems or other random thoughts? Email if you’d like to be advised in next week’s issue.