But if there is one aspect of college that I am constantly experiencing a love-hate relationship with, it is the hustle and bustle of almost everything on campus, the idea that no matter what time of day (or night), work is getting done. While I love being productive and feeling like I’m achieving something, I also enjoy just kicking back and soaking up the beauty of doing nothing, known as “dolce far niente” in Italian. One of the best things about high school was the freedom of deciding when to hustle and when to veg out on the sofa, all while getting my work done well and in a timely manner. College has changed that. While I enjoy moving forward in this amazing crowd of future senators, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, mol-bio researchers and the like, I must admit that sometimes I feel as if I’m walking while everyone is sprinting before the words “ready, set, go” have even been said.
And for this alone, I absolutely loved Intersession.
Soon after exams, my roommate flew west for some Washington State adventures and most of my friends went back home, leaving me all by my happy lonesome. But just one look around campus and I knew I had to go — if I stayed, I knew I’d find myself searching for productive things to do. Perhaps knowing that someone somewhere on this campus is doing something groundbreaking makes a two-week hiatus here seem almost ... nonsensical. Or maybe it was the Ghost of Spring Semester Yet to Come, telling me what horrors I would face if I didn’t brush up on my espanol or order my statistics textbook early. In any case, I called up a family friend at NYU, and on Thursday I was out of here.
It was the right choice. Even though I’d moved from the hustle and bustle of campus to that of New York, I was perfectly content — and equally important, guiltless — indulging in the sweetness of nothing. For the majority of break, my days consisted of sprawling on the sofa with the coziest quilt ever, ordering Thai food and watching all four seasons of “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix.
It all felt very wonderful and dreamlike.
But soon enough, reality set in. The day before I left New York, a few friends from school took the train to visit and enjoy some tasty food during the city’s Restaurant Week. Obviously, I loved seeing them. Leaving my temporary cave to laugh, reminisce and enjoy the city was great (though I’m unsure how necessary a four-story Forever 21 is). But some part of me felt that, with them in the city, it was as if the Orange Bubble had somehow found its way to me, encapsulating me even though I was an hour’s train ride away. Talk of possible precept times in the spring, certain professors failing to post final grades and applications for research internships in the summer had me feeling ready to get back on campus and back into the academic grind, but I was also wary of my inability to escape the incessant hustle and bustle of life here, the constant feeling that if you’re not doing something, you’re not doing anything.
What’s worse is that I know it’s all a result of my own self-doubt. No one has said I don’t belong here or that I’m not doing my best. Because I do, and I am. But I think each of us has a little nagging feeling that the dean of admission will spot us one day and ask, “What are you doing here?”
Because truly, I have yet to meet one person who isn’t anything but humble about his or her achievements or amazing works in progress. Furthermore, no one has told me taking a break from work is a bad thing — in fact, quite the opposite, as friends and family (even good ol’ Rocky with its tasty Chick-fil-A study breaks) want to make sure I’m not losing myself in my work.
It’s all just very nerve-racking when I see how many great things are getting done by both students and faculty. One step away from groundbreaking awesomeness is a step in the wrong direction, a step away from the path to post-grad bliss and a career with which I hope to affect many.
I like to think that, with time, I’ll be able to fully grasp that doing nothing is not not doing something — it is just as beautiful, and, moreover, it is just as important on a path to happiness and self-fulfillment. Dolce far niente, Tigers.
Lea Trusty is a freshman from Saint Rose, La. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.