On the need for spontaneity

May 29, 2019, 1:00 a.m.

As I write this article, my feet are currently kicking inside of the fountain in front of Old Union. The sun is hitting me at such an angle that it’s warming me up perfectly, and I can’t help but smile at the fact that this is my reality. However, if you were to hit the replay button from yesterday, you would see that I basically burned out and had a relatively busier day than usual:

“Did you go fountain hopping again?”

I’ve become that kid who comes to class with their lower body completely soaked. I’m also that kid who walks into Stern dining hall with a towel over his shoulder. To put it simply, yes, I went fountain hopping — but to silence the judges, you should join me. That’s right. I see you, too. I see the way you’re working on a p-set over your dinner. Now, while I don’t want to sound like an overprotective parent, you should probably not do that.

At Stanford, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you’re drowning in work. Instead, you should swim. That means taking breaks to avoid burning out. Self-care at its core is about preserving one’s sense of security and control over one’s life. If you are continuously getting swamped by deadlines, and have Google Calendar giving you notifications every 30 minutes, then you’re probably too overcommitted. Although you might feel dedicated and in no way willing to give up on anything, I sincerely believe it would be in your best interest to take a break.

Spontaneity never hurts. Sometimes that means taking a nap on Meyer Green for half an hour. Sometimes that means falling asleep on Meyer Green for two hours. At first, it feels awkward, and the unmerited spotlight seems to drain you more than anything, but after a while, you begin to live for these small moments in time where you finally get to decide for yourself how you live, where you get to have fun, and where you’re in control — not some professor, upperclassman or TA.

Rigidity works best for some people, but if you find yourself burned out, riddled with senioritis or unable to get over the final sophomore slump, I prescribe to you a dose of spontaneity. The next time the little voice inside your head tells you to leave that meeting, leave. Excuse yourself, walk out, go out to Palo Alto and notice how hard it is to find a restroom.

In the words of Andrew Kim, former head of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, “Sometimes you need to stop running and simply walk to notice the little things.” If that doesn’t convince you, I can provide you with the words that are most commonly used when someone joins me on a spontaneous adventure — “Fuck it.”

Contact Richard Coca at richcoca ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Richard Coca '22 has previously served as editor of The Grind for volume 258, managing editor of Satire in vol. 257, and CLIP Co-chair in vol. 255. He is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Anthropology. Contact him at rcoca 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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