Give Me a Break

As students approach the end of the term, there is both an excited buzz for a long-anticipated period of rest and also a busy-ness of students preparing for Finals week. Whether it’s our first term at Andover or our last “first” term, students are preparing to leave the “Andover bubble” and re-enter the outside world. After an intense Fall Term, both in terms of workload and also resuming “normalcy” for Andover, it is worth questioning what “rest” looks like and how students can rejuvenate during this time off campus. 

Our Andover community is oftentimes an Andover bubble. As most of us enter Andover at 13, 14 year-olds, most of our formative years will be shaped by Andover, touched by its spaces and people. With only seasonal breaks in between, Andover becomes more than just a high school. And while this is a facet of Andover that makes Andover… Andover, it also creates an environment where the stress of school work and the buzz of various events is one that we can’t really run from. To be fair, Andover students are willing, if not passionate, to run head first into this busyness. Just like how Andover promotes itself and the “type of students” that fills the schools, members of the Andover community are extremely driven and love their passions with a ferocity. However, as Fall Term has repeatedly reminded, Andover students can still get tired. And it isn’t hard to see why.

As Juniors enter the Andover bubble and enter the community, they must manage not only the workload but must also take on the responsibility to understand their emotions as they navigate friendships away from home. Even for upperclassmen and seniors, who are older and more accustomed to these changes, the many interesting opportunities on campus, away-games, and an ever-growing pile of homework forces students to choose between health and work. 

And perhaps we know better than anyone that there are bigger things than tomorrow’s French exam. EBI classes, emails from Cluster Deans, and other outlets constantly remind us of the basic ideals of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which tells us that our greater desires of success are not possible with securing our basic needs first: sleep, three meals a day, exercise, etc. This is the most frustrating part, however. We know that we must find ways to stay healthy and prioritize our well-being but this is ultimately a task easier said than done. The only way to realize and manifest this truth is to break out of the bubble. What better time to do it than during break? 

So, what does rest look like outside of the Andover bubble? There isn’t a singular definition of rest; students have different methods of recharging. Whether it be going to NYC with parents, catching up with an Andover alum in Boston, or even doing nothing at all, recharging shouldn’t be seen as optional. There is also an associated weight of guilt whenever students rest, making it harder for students to choose rest even when we have the time to do so. 

As Andover changes the ways we perceive rest and value productivity, when we step outside of the Andover bubble, we are given a change to redefine what these ideas mean. 

Thus, as we leave the campus for Thanksgiving break, we urge you to leave it with a few things in mind. Stop using the word “productive” to describe schoolwork and the other things on your to-do list and start associating productivity with our own happiness. Going on thirty minute walks and just staring into space may seem like a waste of time but if it betters your mood, it’s a productive means of achieving what brings us joy. In a similar way, resting is productive for us. There are valuable moments of insight and self-reflection that we have the luxury to have only when we rest. 

Stepping away from the bubble opens our eyes to so much more. The math test and English project that awaits us during final exam week are just that. There is a world outside of Andover. And as we pack our suitcases and leave Andover behind, remember the work that you completed and enter the real world with your head up. Whether that might be doing nothing and just staring at the wall or binge-watching all the episodes of “Squid Game,” give yourself a break.