Amidst the hustle and bustle of going from one extracurricular to another, needing to finish that one p-set but also read several chapters of a book by the next day, stopping by office hours before eating quickly so that you can see cool guest speaker on campus today, Stanford is a place where it is hard to relax, to say the least. Even when you have free time, there is always something you could be doing — working on that summer internship application, studying for the upcoming midterm or getting ahead on homework.
It did not take me long to realize how, at least during the week, it is hard to find time to just relax with your friends. Besides the people you live with, the people you have extracurricular activities or group projects with and the people who eat meals at relatively similar times as you, it’s difficult to just hang out and de-stress.
Upon reflecting on this with some friends, I’ve started scheduling in time to just relax with them each week. Starting in winter quarter, I’ve gotten a weekly lunch with a friend on Tuesdays and a weekly lunch with another friend on Thursdays. I’ve also set aside an hour on Thursdays to find a nice spot and read with another friend. And we decided the book we read during that time must be one that we’re reading for fun, not for a class. I’ve put these events on my calendar and made a promise to myself that I won’t take them lightly — they are blocked off times of my week where I’m committed to spending time with my friends.
They are times I’ve declared that I’m unavailable — unavailable to meet for a group project, unavailable to go to office hours, unavailable to catch up on homework — though I’m sure my friends would be more than happy to be flexible if anything did come up. Just as I’m required to go to discussion section every week, I’m requiring myself to relax and spend quality time with good friends each week at these times. Not that hanging out with my friends is like going to discussion section, by any means.
Although these endeavors take up a total of only three hours of my week, they are incredibly rewarding. In a sense, they are the most rewarding three hours of my week. They are three hours each week that I’m guaranteed to let my guard down, have a friend to talk with and listen to and de-stress amidst the chaos that is Stanford. They are three hours each week when I’m connecting with another human being, one-on-one, and developing meaningful friendships. Such things I could not learn or get in any class or discussion section, no matter how great the class or brilliant the professor. Yes, it is sad that as the busy Stanford students we are, this doesn’t happen more naturally. However, I’ve found there are great benefits to having “scheduled time” to relax.
At first, I’ll admit I felt a little guilty. I was chilling with a friend when I could’ve been spending that time getting my homework done. I was starting a book that I’d picked up for fun instead of finishing the one that I’d have a reading quiz on the next day. But once it became a recurring, scheduled part of my week — just like each lecture or club meeting — the guilt faded. Now I know that relaxing doesn’t need to be a privilege for when I finish all my homework or submit that one internship application. It’s exactly what I needed to be doing, right then and there.
Contact Angie Lee at angielee ‘at’ stanford.edu.