A Winter Without Spring Break
Winter is here again, or at least in some parts of the country. Meanwhile I play tag with my thermostat everyday; will it be 60 today? Or maybe a more normal 30? I’m going to sweat out of this coat and scarf and hat as soon as I walk into a heated building, but my car feels like the inside of an icemaker.
I’ve never really liked this time of year, especially during college, when it’s so much harder to make yourself get out of bed and drive to campus in the cold, when you could take that one absence and sleep just a little longer. Thankfully, there was always spring break, my saving grace, my one and only Valentine, right around the corner to absolve me all of my icy trudges around campus.
The saddest I’ve felt since graduating is realizing I have no more set spring break. No more specifically set aside time to rush home from that last, ever-so-eternal-seeming class before freedom. No more frantic packing and driving all night to Florida and watching the sun come up over the Atlantic. If I wanted a spring break now, I would have to make it for myself, and that thought was daunting. How am I supposed to get through a spring breakless winter? Summer is too far off, too unreachable, so in the meantime, I’ve tried to do a few small things on my days off from work to beat back that winter idleness.
1. Learn a new skill or hobby.
This could literally be anything at all you’re interested in, even the smallest notion of “hey, I might actually enjoy doing that.” For me, it’s learning how to build and code websites. The books were cheap on Amazon, and while I await their arrival, I read blogs of others who are self-taught, for once utilizing the Internet for something other than Buzzfeed quizzes and six degrees of Wikipedia.
2. Start planning a fun summer activity or trip.
It’s never too early to look forward to summer events, especially in the dead of winter. Music festival lineups are being announced, but it doesn’t have to be something that major. Plan a daytrip to somewhere new or interesting a couple hours from where you live or visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Or if you want to go big or go home, pick somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and try to make it happen. I spent hours the other day looking at flights and Airbnbs in Belize, and while I didn’t actually make any concrete plans, it was still fun to look.
3. Do your taxes! (No, really.)
If only for the money, finish your taxes early and hopefully get that chunk of change faster. That way, you can start setting it aside for something or put it towards one of those fun summer activities you’re planning.
4. Start a new book.
I constantly come home with new books, arrange them all neatly on my bookshelf, and then promptly don’t touch them for months. Instead of instantly picking up my phone one morning, I sat down with some coffee and cracked open one of these aforementioned books (and am currently reading The Windup Girl, which to me is part 1984 and other parts Bladerunner).
5. Spend a day offline.
The same day I picked up a book instead of my phone, I made a point to try to leave it in another room so I wouldn’t be tempted to continuously check it. Because once I check one app, it’s an endless cycle of checking everything else, from playing trivia with my boyfriend to sending a screenshot of my high school principal’s LinkedIn profile to a friend. Before I know it, 45 minutes have passed and I’m probably going to get a headache from not wearing my glasses to look at a screen.
6. Have a Treat Yourself Day.
Have any gift cards from Christmas you haven’t used yet? Use those bad boys, especially now that stores are starting to put their spring clothes out, with some already having summer merchandise out as well (I’m looking at you, Target). If gift cards and extra funds have already been maxed out, get yourself even a little something you wouldn’t normally.
7. Do some early spring cleaning.
Yeah, who finds cleaning fun? I know someone out there besides me must feel some sense of accomplishment from tidying things up. Go through old clothes from last spring and summer, give them to Goodwill or another thrift store you like, or see if Plato’s Closet will actually give you more than 10 bucks for your shirts.
8. Do something you’ve been putting off.
There’s that sense of accomplishment again. You adulted today! Where’s the merit badge for “made my own dentist appointment,” or “sucked it up and paid someone to change my oil instead of my dad doing it for free”? At least it will be out of the way and checked off your list, and that’s one less thing to think about.
9. Try not to sleep in too late, even on off days.
Some days you just desperately need to turn off all alarms and let yourself naturally wake up whenever. Other times, you accidentally fall back asleep after your alarm, sleep two more hours, then finally wake up feeling confused and slightly irritated. If I get up and immediately start my day somehow, I usually end up feeling much less out-of-it and in a better mood.
10. Take a vacation from yourself.
This probably seems weird, but sometimes it’s nice to do things that are out of character. For several months, I had gotten into the habit of obsessively checking job postings on various websites, and it usually left me with a vague sense of unease and disappointment that led to me feeling bad about myself. So I stopped. I made a point to close those tabs I would open out of habit and to not even scroll through any new postings. This isn’t permanent by any means; obviously I’ll need and want to start seeing what’s available at some point, but for now, I’m trying to slow down and not think so hard about what’s going to come next for once.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux]