Well, it’s that time of year. Finals week has snuck up behind us like the typical creeper at the bar, catching us off-guard and trying to force its way into our lives when we’re just trying to dance and have a good time.
In an effort to avoid studying for finals as long as possible, I advocate taking a moment to look back on fall semester: highs and lows, firsts and lasts. Many people are hoping that throwing up in their own purses, missing an exam or falling down the bleachers at the stadium was really just a one-time thing. Some of us are already well on the way to the freshman — or in my case, senior — 15, and we’re slowly making the sad realization that it still counts even if you blacked out, which applies to more than eating that entire frozen pizza.
A chance for reflection is vital during college, which can most aptly be described as a whirlwind. At risk of sounding like the crotchety old-timer who walked uphill to school both ways, it seems like just yesterday that I was starting college, embarking upon the “best four years of my life,” lamenting over the fact that all my efforts to procure a fake ID were fruitless. I’ve now reached the point where I consider lying about my age. It really does go that quickly.
Even though my haircut hasn’t changed in the last four — okay, 15 — years of my life, many other things have. Believe it or not, when I started at this school, Campus Connectors stopped directly outside Coffman Union, Washington Avenue didn’t look like a warzone and the Science Teaching and Student Services building didn’t even exist. Chat Roulette was the hot new thing, I had never thrown up from drinking and I regularly wore flare jeans. Times have changed.
Over the next month, we have a reprieve from the constant grind of the last three-and-a-half months and the chance to take a breath. Sleeping in until 1 p.m. every day is an exciting prospect, but it’s not all that winter break can offer. Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, we have the opportunity to decide what’s working — and what we might want to reconsider.
We all love the idea of self-reinvention: becoming better versions of ourselves and eliminating problematic patterns from our lives. While habits are beneficial in that they ease our mind’s decision-making process, bad habits can be a real detriment. I’d like to be the person who has habits like going to the Recreational Center every day and actually reading a book chapter before the class in which it will be discussed. Right now, my habits include getting less than five hours of sleep every night and eating cereal out of the box in my bed.
In the “real world,” month-long periods of liberation are hard to come by, so embrace it while you can. And one last piece of advice from the senior (citizen) among you: Make sure you’ll actually be around to implement the changes you’d like to see in your life. Be safe over break, and don’t become a statistic during the period that many studies have classified as the deadliest time of the year. Take care of yourself and your friends, and celebrate responsibly. I assure you, this advice is not laced with any holier-than-thou judgments. It’s coming from someone who thought excessive alcohol consumption would help me deal with the first anniversary of a good friend’s suicide during last year’s winter break; I ended up falling through a glass window. We all make mistakes — it’s how we recover and learn from them that defines us.
Happy holidays, and happy self-analysis. See you next year!