I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with winter break. I really can’t say that I love not having to be at the library every week night, because let’s be real here. I am never at the library every week night. Or any week night. I just don’t really do the school thing. But I do love not having the never-ending guilt of not being at the library every night.
The only thing that changes for me from semester to winter break is the increased work hours. Which I also love and hate. Love the extra cash money, hate the way that winter break too accurately portrays what adulthood will probably be like.
I’ve heard rumors of this thing called “winter break” where people sit on their parents’ couches and eat too many Christmas cookies and their moms make them margaritas while they watch nine consecutive episodes of Sex and the City. But honestly, this whole “winter break” thing is completely foreign to me. I have come to the conclusion that I will complete my undergraduate education without ever having a real winter break. Because all winter break means to me is practice time for being a real, live, human adult.
40 hour work weeks, getting kicks out of finding low-cal chicken marinades, reading novels with titles like “The Science of Retail” for fun, dentist appointments, and buying toilet bowl cleaner.
It’s actually scary how quickly you can transition between student and working adult. One week you’re proud of your upstairs neighbors for having sex at 8 AM on a Tuesday for the whole apartment to hear. And the next week you are poking a broom at the ceiling and leaving anonymous and passive post-it notes that read “Keep it down! SOME OF US ACTUALLY HAVE TO WORK AROUND HERE!”
One minute you are stumbling home at 3 AM with your peers and high five-ing random frat boys that shout things like “Who wants my pork sword?!” and the next you are driving home at 10 PM from a long day at work, setting your alarm for 6 AM to make sure you get a work out in, and praying that no one on your street is having a house party that will keep you up. You stare down young girls on the street that are probably no more than one year younger than you and think to yourself “Oh God, is that what the kids are wearing these days?”
You even start to think things like “Ya know, if I wasn’t so centrally located, I wouldn’t have to deal with all these children and noise and FUN. Maybe commuting wouldn’t be so bad.”
And then I smack myself because commuting will always be that bad.
During winter break I probably go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier then I do during the semester. I spend time online shopping for new furniture pieces for my apartment and wonder where I can snag the best deal on a TV. I write emails with subject lines like “Upcoming Staff Meeting” and “Requesting Vacation Days” and “Appointment Confirmation for Car Service.”
I make to-do lists with items like “Refold cloth napkins” and “Find dish soap that doesn’t smell so strongly of vanilla.”
I actually shower every day.
I bake cookies that I don’t eat because surely my metabolism is slowing down and I can’t afford to buy new jeans because it’s just not in the budget this month.
It’s moments like this that I really miss being a student. Because Student Melissa doesn’t think twice about ordering a whole 20 inch Ian’s pizza to smother in ranch. She kills time between classes by perusing Urban Outfitters. She often wears her bigger book bag to class just in case she needs to squeeze a new pair of shoes in there. And her to-do lists read something like “Cancel this meeting to take a nap, text the girls to find out who is in charge of wine for tonight, and online shop for a panda bear toothbrush to procrastinate caring about Biz Law.”
Being a student is the ultimate life excuse. It’s amazing what you can get away and what you can justify. Like the not showering every day thing. And student discounts. Being a student is like having all of life’s privileges and none of the responsibility. You perceive yourself to have a lot of responsibility. You tell people you have a lot of responsibility. But you really don’t.
I guess this is why people say “Never graduate.”