Alyssa Slovin ‘22 is an English and marketing double major. Besides her work at The Flat Hat as Opinions Editor and Flat Hat Magazine as Editor-in-Chief, she is involved in Sinfonicron Light Opera Company, The Gallery and Active Minds. Email Alyssa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
March 2020, when we were sent home early for the semester due to COVID-19, I realized that I was doing college wrong. I had a lot of close friends, and we would have the best laughs together, but we never actually did anything different together. We studied together, we watched movies on the floor of my dorm room (sometimes while also studying or writing a Flat Hat Opinions article), we ate meals together. You get the idea.
But when COVID-19 took away our freedom to choose, I realized all the activities to which I had said no. I wanted to say yes to day trips and nights out, but it was too late. My sophomore year ended early. Junior year, I thought. That will be my year. But we all know how the 2020-2021 school year went. Restrictions and fear of contracting COVID-19. Any memories we made, we made within our four walls, and interacting with friends outside of my dorm became increasingly difficult. We ate our dinner while watching “Hell’s Kitchen” and imitating Gordon Ramsay all along the way. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. I love my friends, and Gordon Ramsay, and we really just need each other’s company to have a good time together. I’m not trying to discount that. But there are always more possibilities outside of a dorm room or the Cookout drive-thru line. College is a chance to use our time to its fullest before entering the professional realm and moving onto a new age of responsibility in life, and we were giving that all up.
And now I’m a senior, and there are so many firsts to be had. First time going to Paul’s. First time going to the Movie Tavern. First time saying yes to whatever I want without worrying excessively about deadlines.
It always seems like it’s cool to say no here at the College of William and Mary. We say, “sorry, I can’t, I have to study.” It must be one of the most-used lines on this campus. Don’t get me wrong: you should definitely care about your grades. I know I do, and I make the time to do all the work that I know I need to do in order to succeed in my classes. But that’s the key. We make the time to get those necessities done. So we need to make time to enjoy ourselves as well. It’s possible. The idea that college students must be on the clock 24 hours a week 7 days a week is unsustainable and also frankly detrimental to us all. In addition to learning more about our fields and preparing for a professional career, college is about expanding horizons — but how can you do that from the third floor of Earl Gregg Swem Library, where even quiet giggling is frowned upon?
Personally, my goal this semester has been to play into those whims that I always silenced because there was never enough time. And guess what? Going out on the weekends, watching TV while doing nothing but enjoying the show itself, and spontaneously meeting people during the week has not impacted my ability to perform in my classes at all. I’ve made it work, and I could have the whole time. Everyone naturally needs breaks, and instead of using that time recovering from burn-out, you can avoid some of it by taking necessary breaks along the way.
With the end of my college career quickly approaching, I regret not taking charge of my life like this until now. It can be easy to get caught up in the stress and list of seemingly never-ending assignments. At the end of the day, you know what you’re capable of, and thus spending some time purely enjoying yourself won’t derail your plans. I promise.