Introduction

No reading was done

No reading was done

I don’t remember what I was searching for when I found this article. It was something along the lines of “does anyone read during reading week,” because I felt terrible for catching up on my sewing and playing video games* and hiding from stress under my bed. I mean, I read a bit… just… not nearly all of what I planned to read.

The article is titled “Not Many Students Actually Read During Reading Week” and is from a publication affiliated with Okanagan College in BC. It basically asks whether students realize Reading Week is for reading, and not Spring Break/Daytona Beach/skiing/relaxation/not-work-related activities?

The author explains that when she was a student she couldn’t have afforded to go to Daytona Beach for a week of pure relaxation/partying. I’m not sure if this is because she had no money (like most college students), or because she couldn’t afford to fall behind in her studies. Regardless, her school didn’t have a reading break; if it did, she would have spent the time catching up or working.

She mentions the notorious Spring Break, the reading week for American college students, and the rowdy, drunken debauchery we usually associate with it. Canadian students are notably more docile during their break; I would argue that we all go into hibernation, although it might have something to do with the fact that there’s less Spring Breakesque marketing targeted at us.

Regardless, Canadian students still don’t read during Reading Week. The story suggests that the name Reading Week needs to be changed because students don’t understand why they get that time off. It’s not for skiing, holidays, or partying, but for catching up on work.

Well, guess what. Not all of us are vicious keeners.

I’m not saying anyone who studies during Reading Week is automatically a keener. I’m not trying to completely justify my not-studying. I am saying that wanting to take a break from school work and freaking out and stress-induced illnesses is normal. Students utilize this break in different ways. When school is kicking your (insert euphemism for behind here), it’s understandable if you were to take this week of nothingness and run with it.

Because there are a million ways to make the most of or completely waste Reading Week (or to do something in between), I can only give you my own example.

I made a basic outline of what I wanted to accomplish. It was quite lovely. But before I began, I wanted to breathe. Just for a little while. The week before, I would have tortured a child’s teddy bear while they watched** just to pause. Just for a moment. And look at everything going on around me and say, “Ah. I see. Okay, I feel better, let’s continue running around after a future that may never come.”

So, I took a break. As I took this break, butterflies and backflipping monkeys entered my stomach if I thought about school, or anything related to school. When I did something creative, I would stay up until 3 a.m. The day I switched to schoolwork, my energy was gone by midnight. Procrastination set in.

Most of us have a plan to catch up on work, and wind up completing half of it… or a quarter… or none of it at all. It seems to be a question of procrastination, rather than outright vacationing. I suppose that article made me defensive and bitter; I’m not the perfect social butterfly of a student who goes out partying whenever she gets the chance. I just wanted to stop. I overdid it a bit, and now the following weeks will be more stressful than before. At the very least, I learned something.

There are different reasons for a student to be less-than-gung-ho about their post-secondary stint; burnout, hating your area of study, being in university because someone told you to go, tons of reasons. The only solution seems to be to stop putting life on hold.

Many of the students who enjoy university are not enthusiastic about it because of the perfect, high-paying, family-pleasing career they are guaranteed to get once they graduate. They love it because they love reading 18th century English literature, or they love learning another language, or they love titration***, or law and learning how to argue, or history, or Calculus or whatever. These people are actually passionate about things in their present lives. I have friends who get excited about their essays, because the topic they’ve chosen is something they’ve always wanted to explore. It’s not about some ridiculous job or pretentious degree that will steer you toward retirement (and then what is your aging hide going to do?). It’s about now.

When you have a zillion, stress-inducing, seemingly meaningless tasks to catch up on, you procrastinate. Procrastinating causes one to lose time worrying/on Facebook. Procrastinating leads to fear. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering equals running around, finishing assignments last-minute, chasing a future that may never come, forgetting to enjoy life while it is still in front of you.

So… what have I learned from failing at diligence this Reading Week? The only way free-spirited slackers are going to survive school is if we don’t put life on hold for it.

– Liesl

* Can you say BAYONETTA DEMO?

** I wouldn’t.

*** How likely is this?

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