To each of you who is joining this incredible William and Mary family — welcome! I am thrilled that you are here and I join you in all the emotions that come with new beginnings: feelings of anticipation, wonder, hope, uncertainty, adventurousness and promise. As a member of the College of William and Mary Student Affairs staff for more than 20 years, and now as vice president, I have been a part of many move-in days, orientation programs and trainings.
So when I was asked by The Flat Hat staff to share a few words of advice with you, I really had to pause (in fact, I’ve pondered this column for several weeks). What amazing gem of wisdom might I have to offer? What would be helpful? What might you actually remember? What could I tell you that you won’t hear from others in the coming days — RAs, OAs, faculty, administrators and classmates, all of whom have wisdom to share from their own experiences and perspectives?
I decided that I would greet you with just one word of advice as you begin your college career — leisure. A strange choice of words coming from the Vice President for Student Affairs? Perhaps. But I hope you will take the word to heart, for I believe leisure is critically important to your flourishing here. There is no doubt in my mind that you will strive for excellence in the things you undertake — your academic pursuits, your leadership experiences, your contributions to athletic teams and interest groups, your artistic expressions, your volunteers commitments. A commitment to excellence is what has brought you to the College, and being around others who also give the best of themselves to things that matter is what will make these among the best years of your life.
But, I want to challenge each of you also to think about what leisure time might look like for you in the coming year. Is there something you can choose to do while you are at the College that you have absolutely no expectation of ever mastering? How will you honor the need to balance striving with time for rejuvenation, exhilaration, rest and joy? What will it look like for you to seek and value leisure time in your busy student life? How might you savor the moments of your William and Mary days — the smell of cut grass in the Sunken Garden, the laughter of hallmates, the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on DoG Street? What will you do simply for the enjoyment of it, and how can you encourage one another to meaningfully answer that same question?
I’ve taken this question to heart myself, and I am committed to valuing leisure in my own vice presidential life even as I offer that advice for you. Starting this fall, I will be hosting Leisure Lunches once a month in my conference room, and I invite you to consider signing up for one of them. Not only will we have a chance to get to know one another better, but we can share in one of my own favorite leisure activities — playing board games! Stay tuned to Student Happenings for information about how to sign up. Cheese Shop sandwiches and board games provided.
There is a sign that hangs just inside my office door. It reads: Time is Precious — Waste it Wisely. It serves as a daily reminder to me that how I choose to spend my leisure time really does matter. It also reminds me that while some activities may not reflect the most efficient use of time, they can be invaluable to the way I do my work and to my sense of well-being and connection to others. I, too, am learning that leisure is not an interruption to productivity, but an essential ingredient to my living and working optimally. Whatever your leisure time looks like this year, savor it.
Email Virginia Ambler at firstname.lastname@example.org.