Have fun or else: The pressure to enjoy spring quarter

May 30, 2018, 3:00 a.m.

Tanned undergrads sporting “Camp Stanford” t-shirts and baseball caps. The sun glistening off of a Frisbee gliding through the air. The splash of sand as someone leaps to save a rogue volleyball. Spring quarter: the time when everyone on campus takes a collective exhale and just chills out. Concerts on campus. Darties, parties and everything in between. Spontaneity is prized. Skip lecture and take a nap on Wilbur field. Stop and smell the roses… Or at least take a whiff of some palm trees. Live a little.

As refreshing as this mindset is from the “grind-all-the-time” motto of winter quarter, I quickly discovered that it is a slippery slope. I went from enjoying the small moments in the bright, sunny days to concocting a three-part plan to make this spring the most fun possible. And while I never had an actual plan (because that would require organization and foresight), I did pressure myself to have more fun than I wanted to, needed to or could realistically have.

Maybe it’s just me, but the characterization of spring quarter as one where “you’re gonna want to take less units” ingrained within me a necessity to fulfill the prophecy of a fun spring quarter. My priority became maximizing fun. Taking afternoon naps in the sun and attending a couple all-campuses suddenly wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until I found myself actually considering a last-minute, quick weekend trip to Iceland that I realized I was in too deep in the whirlpool of spring quarter euphoria.

Iceland was not reality. First of all, I don’t have the money to go to Iceland. And second of all, I don’t have the money to go to Iceland! Who did I think I was? Kylie Jenner?! But through my rose-colored spring quarter glasses, it made complete sense. A quick weekend getaway to Iceland with some friends seemed like the perfect trip to make sure everybody knew I was living my best life. And this is not to say that you have to be Kylie Jenner to go to Iceland for the weekend, but for me at least, it would take rational planning and more than a whimsical urge.

And what’s to say I was not living my best life right here on campus? Nothing, except for myself and the wild and unreasonable expectations I set for my spring quarter. Part of me loves the optimism and adventurousness engendered by spring quarter. The other part warns myself against being driven to extremes by the subtle but present pressure to have fun.


Contact Phoebe Quinton at pquinton ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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