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As this term comes to an end, conversations about winter break plans naturally begin to arise. As with many things, Lawrentians tend to make a competition out of winter break. Despite this sort of game being insanely ironic, considering the word “break” is in the phrase, I’m feeling pretty anxious about sharing my plans with others, worried I’ll be perceived as too lazy.
For all of us to live on the same campus and feel a bit of competitiveness is unfortunate, but expected at this point. When this sort of “who’s working harder” contest goes outside of the term and into our personal time, however, is when we need to have a serious talk. I honestly don’t know if campus will ever be able to fully ignore what we casually call the “Lawrence Busy.” As toxic as it is, business is a driving factor of our community, so while there is so much backlash surrounding it (rightfully so), I don’t really see it going anywhere anytime soon.
However, I think we can all agree that we need to take the rivalry out of winter break. To me, it feels like no matter who I turn to, someone has a great winter break job, plans to travel somewhere interesting or has scored a really impressive six-week long internship. And, honestly, I am happy for these successes. These opportunities are undoubtedly something to be proud of, but not something to use against your peers.
Because the fact is that no one will really have a winter break similar to someone else. We share some craziness with each other during fall term, as we pile on classes, organizations, sports and everything else. But we are scattered across the world once winter break begins. Since we aren’t together in our tight cluster of business, why do we still feel the need to compare our experiences with one another?
And, truth be told, no two students feel the same about the upcoming winter break. For some, they’re excited to be with their family, celebrating the holidays and seeing people they haven’t seen in a while. For others, the idea of going home is looking more and more dreadful as we get closer to the end of the term. This isn’t even the start of the list of how people are feeling. Some will be staying on campus, as they’re unable to go somewhere else or because they have simply chosen not to. Whatever the deciding factors may be, everyone is going to have a different break for a number of different reasons.
This being said, I think now more than ever we should be careful about how we discuss our winter break plans. Do I think we shouldn’t talk about all the things we plan to do over break? No, of course not. For many of us, myself included, talking about winter break plans can be a sort of light at the end of the ten-week-long tunnel. However, going into these conversations with the understanding that my winter break is going to look very different from the person next to me will hopefully decrease the number of hurt feelings, comparisons and overthinking that already arises in so many other discussions like this that we have on campus.
Most importantly, though, all of us need to realize that this is a break we’re talking about. It’s meant for rest and relaxation. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need to do things like work over winter break, but I also hope we don’t completely overlook the whole point of the six weeks ahead of us. Please, do what you need to do to have a successful break, whether that entails work, internships, travel, seeing loved ones or simply just focusing on yourself. That said, while catching up on these tasks don’t forget to do nothing. I am not encouraging you not to do anything over our long break, but I am encouraging you to truly take care of yourself. Because if you don’t do it over this break we have, you won’t be setting yourself up nicely for winter term, and we all know how brutal Wisconsin winters can be.
Obviously, any plans for a break are good plans, as long as you are using your time in a way that you think is best for you. I am happy that you will be taking the time to do what you need to do. My hope is, however, that we all continue to understand that this winter break can be used in a multitude of ways, and we shouldn’t create unnecessary pressure in someone else’s mind by talking about the things we will be accomplishing. With the end of the term rapidly approaching, life is already stressful enough for us Lawrentians. Let’s do our part by focusing on the good that can come with winter break. I think it is safe to say everyone could use a little more hope and positivity in their lives right now.