Go ahead, take a break

Having no plans may be the best plans you have ever made.

A close friend of mine told me over a steaming cup of coffee that she is headed to Amsterdam over spring break. She is traveling alone. She bought an industrial size backpack and does not have a return flight booked yet. She has none of the details figured out, but her excitement is palpable.

I am happy for her. This is just the thing she needs. She is the kind of person who can not shake the travel bug once it bites her. I expressed my happiness, and through her grin she asked me what my plans are for break.

“Actually,” I said. “I don’t have any.” For a moment, it looked like she felt extremely sorry for me. But my grin was just as big as hers had been. I have zero concrete plans, and I’m not sad about it at all.

When most people think of college students in the springtime, they think of beaches full of empty beer cans, spur-of-the-moment tattoos and foggy memories. Spring break is synonymous with sun-soaked good times. Maybe this is the reality for some, but not for me. I would like to bet that it is not the case for a lot of other people, too.

My weekdays here at Hamline are packed. I have everything stacked up perfectly, but that means that I’m back-to-back busy all day, every day. When I think of days off during the school year, I really focus on the aspect of a break.

For some reason, there is an unspoken pressure when it comes to having plans during this time of year. It could be the stigma surrounding spring break, or it could be the good old college competitive spirit. Either way, something makes people wary of telling others that they are not going on a fancy vacation. I want to change that.

Repeat after me: it is okay not to have spring break plans. I look at it as breathing room. Those few precious days where I do not have any commitments can be spent in pure, lazy bliss. In the past, I would not have looked at this as something that interests me, let alone something that has the potential to be healthy. But since starting college, I have a different perspective.

I will be the first to admit that I have taken on a ton of responsibilities this spring. This further drives home the point I made earlier of me being busy all day everyday. I was just saying to a friend of mine that I have trouble saying no, so I can probably guess what you are thinking: it is my fault that I am so busy. You are right, it is. But here is the thing; I love every single thing that I am involved in. My schedule is hectic, but it keeps my life interesting.

That being said, I can acknowledge when it gets to be too much. Even the best of situations can take a toll on you. There will not always be an opportunity in life to take a step back. I cannot speak for everyone, but if something printed on a calendar is titled “break” I am going to take advantage of it.

I wrote in a previous issue of The Oracle about the concept of burnout. Burnout is essentially when you get overwhelmed to an extreme amount due to events happening in your everyday life. Things like spring break are a great combatant for that. It allows you to disconnect and not reach that dreaded breaking point. While it is true that a booked vacation can resolve some of these feelings as well, there tends to be some guilt involved when you go on a vacation and do nothing but sit around.

The fact that you took the time to find and spend money on a plane ticket might put you in the mindset of having a full itinerary. You want to get the most out of your vacation (or, maybe, the most of your money).

If you choose to spend your days off in the comfort of your home, you are not wasting any money. Your commitments have been put on pause, so you are disappointing anyone. You can read a book, sleep in late, or wear sweatpants all day with no guilt! Breaks are an amazing thing, so don’t look at having no plans as a waste of your time. Recharge, relax and trudge on.