The Crimson White

College students should get hobbies

Caroline Builta

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“I’m in college, Mom. Give me a break.” 

This was probably the sentence I uttered the most this past summer. My mother was—rightfully—unamused by the amount of time (and money) I spent on bar tabs on random Tuesday nights, and we would have a come-to-Jesus talk almost every morning. 

“I’m worried about you,” she said. “You need to find something to do.” 

“Look, I’m going to be taking about a million credit hours this semester, so I’ll have more than enough going on,” I’d respond, rolling my eyes and grabbing a Gatorade from the fridge. “Why can’t you just let me enjoy my summer?” 

The last week or so, now that classes are starting and I’m beginning to behave like a functioning adult again, I’ve had some time to reflect on the actual value of what she was saying. I’ve always been someone who has a million things going on; somebody who thrives when they are the busiest. But over the course of a few months, I fell into a pattern that far too many college students fall into: Mistaking having a social life with doing something fulfilling. Contrary to popular belief, you can have all of the friends in the world and still not be doing something worthwhile with your time.

I love social media just as much as the next college-aged gal, but let’s be honest with ourselves: Having a quality Instagram aesthetic isn’t likely to provide you long-term happiness or comfort. Neither is being able to shotgun a Bud Light in record time or managing to binge watch all of Grey’s Anatomy in three weeks. I’m not negating that these acts are a part of the college experience. I firmly believe that as long as it isn’t negatively impacting the rest of your life, you should be free to behave just like all of Hollywood thinks we do in the movie “Neighbors.” But it isn’t healthy if that’s all that you do.

After we graduate, many of us will end up working 40 hours a week from nine-to-five. Some of us will go straight to graduate school. The reality is that the four years we have in college are far too short to spend all of it in a drunken haze. It’s important for your overall well-being to find something you love to do that is also productive and not necessarily academic. This can be as big as learning to play a new instrument, or as small as getting a box of crayons and a stack of coloring books to keep on your nightstand. You can join an organization to meet new people within your major (such as the College of Engineers Does Amateur Radical Theatre) or an organization that will expose you to people you otherwise wouldn’t have even known (Crimson Kindness is open to anyone!). You have infinite possibilities while you’re on campus, and this is one of the only times in your life that you’ll have the ability to sign up for a Thursday night ballroom dancing class. You can even try out something you do alone, like knitting. That’s an activity you can do while you watch “The Office!”

I don’t want to sound like I’m harping on millennials for liking Netflix and wine, because I’m not. I have been known to pull all-nighters just to watch “Parks and Recreation.” I’m not even arguing that every college student is like this. But there are too many of us who become apathetic and check out a bit, and life isn’t meant to consist solely of scraping through your classes so that you can go to the bar that night. 

It’s the beginning of a new school year, and Get On Board Day is tomorrow night. Check out the Alabama Forensic Council; they have more national championships than our football team! Or University of Alabama Miracle Network Dance Marathon; they raised over $300,000 for Children’s of Alabama last year. And this doesn’t even mention Dance Alabama!, Mock Trial, or the Anthropology Club. Whatever you are excited about (that isn’t your next kamikaze shot), there’s probably a group on campus for you to get involved in, whether you’re a freshman or a super senior. I promise you that Rounders won’t miss you too much if you take off a couple of Tuesday nights. Your wallet and well-being will thank you.

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College students should get hobbies