After rising to “upperclassman” status this year, I’ve contemplated the many things I’ve done right and wrong during my freshman year. I got many things right: I was able to maintain my grades, workout regularly, write for a publication, and generally stay on top of my stuff. However, after this summer as a camp counselor, I realized that I got one big thing wrong: I never gave myself time to play.
As a camp counselor, I was basically hired payed to play dodge ball, make arts and crafts, and, occasionally, escort kids to the bathroom. Of course, this is an oversimplification of the job description, as I had times when I wanted to hide in a room where no one could bother me. But, in my mind, my job this summer was more than just a way for me to make money. It was the first time, in a long time, I allowed myself to partake in pointless, but fun, activities.
(My fellow counselors and I getting ready to shoot our campers with nerf guns)
Let me explain why I chose the word “pointless.” In today’s world, everything is geared towards being as efficient as possible (AKA getting the most of what you put in). Therefore, spending time on things that don’t provide something tangible and “useful” is seen as a waste of time. This pressure is even more pronounced on a college campus, where efficiently spending your time can be the difference between sink or swim.
As a result, most college students work themselves thin through the weekdays, saving their weekends for frivolous things such as play. At Kenyon, play usually manifests itself as drinking and partying. In a culture that embodies the phrase “Work hard, play hard,” it’s important to understand that there are healthier forms of play and other ways to blow off some steam.
Activities like kickball and crafting take your mind off of the past and the future and make you focus on the now. When you’re concentrated on kicking the ball hard enough to give your team a home run, you’re not thinking about the chem quiz you have tomorrow. When you are in the state of play, you are present and you feel light, two things I rarely felt as a freshman trying to keep everything together.
I saw my first year of college as my first step into real adulthood. As a result, I took up the attitudes of most adults, which can be simplified in terms of “grumble, grumble, work, work.” I envy kids because their lives don’t revolve around maximizing productivity and meeting deadlines. Their number one priority is to have fun. Of course, as college students, our lives can’t revolve around play, but we owe it to ourselves to not buy into the hum-drumness of adulthood. When we were kids, it didn’t take much to enjoy life; it just came naturally. Who says it can’t be like that now?
Image Credit: Juvi Rivera, Giphy