Sorry, I Can’t Go Because—

Walking awkwardly around the stage in one of his most famous comedy clips, John Mulaney thanks the audience, saying he’s glad anybody came at all. He doesn’t elaborate much, simply saying that it’s “percentage-wise one hundred percent easier” to not do things than to do them, and that it’s miraculous that people leave the house at all. While it’s supposed to be an ironic routine, I have to admit that there’s more than a morsel of truth in it for me. As far as social habits at Andover go, cancelling plans is a behavior that I cannot seem to drop no matter how much I mentally stuff it into the Don’t Ever Do This box. I’m willing to wager that I’m not alone in thinking this. Sunday at 7 p.m.: as usual, I’m recovering from a Saturday lost to my extracurriculars. My entire body’s aching due to twelve hours of playing an instrument on and off. For others, who may have a weekend away game, debate tournament, or robotics competition, the same likely holds. Even for those who aren’t quite as busy, the hefty Andover workload still awaits them on weekends. 

Oftentimes, a good night’s sleep is often out of the question for me (and others, I’m sure), much less the luxury of hours spent on more casual club meetings and social events. There’s a buildup of homework waiting that has been assigned under the assumption that some other classes perhaps aren’t as intense. We’re coming off of an easier year; I am still barely adjusting to these sit-down quizzes that we squirmed through during the virtual year. And to top it off, I really, really want to talk to my friends. But “priorities”  compel me to think of my work first, then eating and sleeping, and finally socializing—kidding, I’ve got to call my parents first, by which time I’m basically asleep. What is free time, anyway, and why should I spend it with other people when I can cancel and cut corners?

So, yes. It’s easier and sometimes feels better to just get rid of those extra unnecessary commitments. I don’t really have to eat at Commons today with my friends… 

But where does that leave me at the end of the day? Alone in my room, studying (as I have been for the past eight hours), practicing (did I really need those extra hours of etudes?), or perhaps eating (oops, I think I forgot to do that). Yes, I’ve gotten some of the work done, but my efficiency is rapidly declining with each passing hour. We agree to meet up in an hour or so, and then I’m the one who drops out of the set time because I don’t have enough willpower to break out of my homework grind.

I talked to a few of my friends, and they chimed in with a few tips of their own: to let go of homework obligations sometimes, and allow time for fun. First and foremost, we’re here to enjoy the best years of our lives just as much as we’re here to grow academically. Honoring that commitment to my friends is what keeps the school experience alive. Despite the instant surge of serotonin that may come with cancelling plans and having a couple more hours to myself, oftentimes a quiet and insistent voice in the back of my head sows seeds of regret (and guilt). After all, this is Andover—renowned not just for the academic rigor, but for the community. The people.

When I make these plans and follow through with them, I’m able to experience not just a release from work, but also bonding, networking, and a “reset” due to the joy that spending time with my friends gives me. Even moments as small as grabbing breakfast with a dormmate can help pull people out of the haze of studying and leave me refreshed to tackle whatever else is on their plate.  In a setting where it can be so easy to just hide and cancel a plan, engaging with people and embracing time “off” allows us to find ourselves and enjoy our limited time here. 

So the next time your friend group decides to go somewhere, don’t drop out. Don’t leave them hanging, and don’t let it become a party minus one. Stick to those plans, go downtown, and enjoy the fresh air.