MCINTYRE: Sit down, shut up (please) and just take a break

Liz McIntyre

The collegiate culture demands that a student be constantly engaged, stimulated, accomplishing, introspecting, influencing, learning, teaching and doing. It’s all activity, all the time. While our desire to do is actually quite wonderful, it can also be terrifyingly overwhelming. As life’s constant demands wear away at us, the interest of sanity calls for a sense of balance that is often overlooked and undervalued.

At Villanova in particular, it seems that the Villanova bug is perpetual, chronic over-involvement in all areas: campus activities, social life and academia. Whether your niche is Campus Ministry retreats, break trips and weekly service; Orientation, SGA and Blue Key; or a blend of any or all of the above with the multitude of other opportunities at Villanova, it’s a pretty safe bet that you have attended virtually any combination of five of such organizations’ meetings. You can probably recognize some of the same people’s faces in several of them. Even if meetings occur at the exact same time, these people manage to find a way to be in two places at once. This is the face of the ideal Villanova student. Incidentally, this face is also the poster child for over-involvement with a tendency for overextension. It’s inspiring. And also exhausting.

As students, the motivation for involvement is undeniably there, regardless of origin. There’s a highly infectious degree of drive for accomplishment that glorifies the characteristics of college kids: short attention spans and passion, even if the latter is just a passion for building the resume. We get a lot of things done and love that we get them done. However, with our constant participation comes a sense of both possibility and responsibility, and the more we’ve got on our plates, the more we have to think about in both arenas.

It’s easy to let the wealth of opportunities at Villanova overshadow the importance of taking time for simply being and thinking alone, sans all the sound and stimuli.

But not-doing is actually one of the most productive things you can do for peace of mind. Everybody recharges differently, but can anyone deny the blissful relief after a good session of making time to just chill?

This is where the Cave comes in, although it’s more commonly known to pretty much everyone besides my friends and me as Falvey’s first floor Griffin Room. For some reason, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than five people in the Cave. When there are that many people, there seems to persist an unspoken understanding that we will all shut up.

I love the Cave because I can actually hear myself think and plan a course of action for managing anything hectic that’s coming my way. Slowly but surely, the Cave has become one of my “places” on campus; it’s a place that I go to whether I need to really get my life together or just chill between classes.

Maybe for you, it’s not going to a place – maybe it’s making time to watch a certain movie or go for a run. Make time for something that is just for you, and you’ll find that the break will give you a little more gas to step on the pedal and kick life’s butt.

Because, quite frankly, school is crazy in its demands, opportunities and limited number of hours in the day.

Conscious effort is required to maintain some peace of mind, and for that I confidently prescribe me-time (I’m a psychology major, so I can do that). That’s right. I am actively giving you permission, by the power of the degree that I don’t yet have, to go take a break. Take some time to find your Cave and make a point of going there.


Liz McIntyre is a junior psychology major from Chapel Hill, N.C.. She can be reached at [email protected].