To those who know me, it’s no secret that I’m a champion of the personal day — sleeping in, watching movies, and only leaving the comfort of my room to retrieve coffee (or the occasional cheese pizza). Days like this are meant to prioritize lifestyle and personal well-being amid unrealistic expectations and wintertime blues, though it’s a choice that typically translates to: It’s more difficult for me to finish my homework because I’ve been busy watching a documentary about Irish pubs or reading "Rosemary’s Baby" with a box of Cheerios by my side. Though it took over two years of passing up social events and Netflix episodes for another few hours of idle studying, I eventually realized that my failure to make time for leisure and mental health was far worse than the prospect of getting a B grade.
Going into the spring semester of senior year, this Intersession was all about feeling refreshed, and not least because I recently realized that the latest version of my résumé had a major misspelling. (Princeton “Univeristy” — I don’t want to talk about it.) After a long weekend at home post-finals, I left south Florida to return to a bitterly cold, nearly empty campus, but it wasn’t so bad. My roommates were travelling overseas, so I had the place to myself for a full week, and I finally found my winter gloves, so things were really looking up. Faced with freezing temperatures and a few seasons of "Sex and the City" to mow through, I made Intersession into nothing other than seven back-to-back personal days.
I did venture off campus once — into New York City to see the Laura Owens retrospective in its last week on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art and catch up with a Class of 2017er to talk about transitioning into life after graduation. What I learned from talking with her, and from reflecting on the experiences of other recent graduates, is that although senior year can induce that horrible “my life is completely hanging in the balance” feeling, by the end of it, everything will be sort of be okay. Easier said than done, but still, allowing yourself to trust the process provides some level of comfort.
As the main task of senior year — the senior thesis — is upon us, it’s important to remember that getting off campus to get some perspective can be really revitalizing, even if it seems impossible to go anywhere but Firestone Library on a Saturday morning. And if taking day trips feels like too much of a commitment, settle for an afternoon on campus, totally unplugged from research and advisers. Though it’s hard to feel like we can make space in our schedules for the things we enjoy, over the past week I’ve been reminded of how great it can be to take that pressure off. Going into the new semester, I have a list of various goals and job applications to submit, but I have an even longer list of books to read and movies to watch.