A new year and a new semester are dawning, full of potential and possibilities. It’s a fresh start, a blank slate, a Sharples tray just waiting to be drawn upon. This is an exciting, albeit daunting, time of year — the time of year when we take it upon ourselves to make plans, goals, and resolutions for the future. And knowing Swarthmore students, none of these plans, goals, or resolutions are anything less than ambitious.
The new semester, as-of-yet unfilled schedule, and undetermined routine are so enticing, so full of promise. “Of course,” we say to ourselves, “of course I can take five courses this semester and still have time to get more involved with clubs. I’m going to go to the gym every day, and also get a job and tutor. I will definitely be able to do research with a professor this spring, and I’m going to spend more time with friends.” And, as an extra cherry on top, in addition to everything else, there is always, “I should prioritize self-care. I really need to get more sleep this semester.”
We lay out these goals for ourselves with the best of intentions. It’s not a bad thing to be ambitious, to try to make the most of your semester. But when, two weeks in, these commitments feel more like a burden, and when sleep or downtime is sacrificed for the sake of the fifth class or the research or the three extra clubs, the new year can start to feel bleak. Suddenly, all those well-intentioned plans whose prospects were so inviting are just another thing you can’t wait to check off your to-do list. The excitement fades, the drudgery sets in. Your Google Calendar is so full of multi-colored commitments that you have to schedule in bathroom breaks, you dread filling out yet another When2Meet, you’re forced to choose between seeing your friends and (finally) doing your laundry. The way I see it, you should be free to grab lunch with your bestie, and have clean socks, too.
So, as we face down this new semester, I have a list of perhaps more realistic, achievable goals for the spring.
Ann’s List of Reasonable New Year’s Resolutions for the Swarthmore Student:
- Get up with enough time to get to that 8:30 a.m. class (or 9:30 a.m. class … or 10:30 a.m. class…)
- Remember to take your laundry out of the dryer before it has sat there for three hours and someone else has been forced to move it.
- Cry no more than once a week in McCabe Library (twice a week during exam periods).
- Steal no more than two pears a day from Sharples.
- If you must smoke in your room, try at least opening a window (we all know how I feel about fire alarms).
- Limit the amount of time spent complaining about work to less than the amount of time the work actually takes to complete.
- Spice things up by not ordering the same exact thing at Crumb every single time you go.
- Remember what year it is when you’re writing the date, so you’re not forced to try to awkwardly change “19” to “20” every day until March.
- Send more pictures of the cute dogs you see to your friends.
Of course, these are not applicable to or achievable for every person. I, for example, cannot promise to limit my pear thievery all the time; sometimes, the fruit is just what gets me through the week. But I can make a valiant effort.
In all seriousness, the ambition and drive of students at Swarthmore is wonderful, exciting, and motivating. So don’t stop trying to do the most, and don’t settle for boring, routine, and easy. But remember that small goals and seemingly less life-changing resolutions can be just as important as the big ones. It’s okay if the only resolution you have for this semester is to make it through to the next. It’s okay if your goal is to have pasta bar just once instead of twice a week. It’s okay if you plan to cure cancer and to make your bed every morning. However big or small your dreams for 2020, I wish you the best of luck.