December 9, 2022 | CULTURE | By Ceyna Dawson | Photo by Maren Greene

Over fall break, students got a taste of freedom. This freedom was from the cyclical nature of the Block Plan. Obligations to cram for a final or read over 100 pages a night are gone. There is a collective air of relief when that fourth-week panic comes to a halt.

Whether the break was full of stuffed stomachs, binging Hallmark movies, reading a book, healing from sniffles and coughs, or sleeping off the exhaustion of the last block – rest from break is essential.

At King Soopers on Dec. 1, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” blares across the speaker phones. The florist is busy cutting roses and arranging bouquets. There is a delicate nature to the assembly – one by one – cut the stem, take off the leaves, remove the thorns, print a price tag. Repeat. Grabbing a bouquet with pink peonies, red roses, the classic baby breath filler, and the occasional green leaf are held together with a yellow string. These flowers are a current image of health.

Colorado College students are spread thin between personal life and academics: petals begin to fall. A student shares how challenging it is to handle family issues while far away from home. Some who have Celiac disease are struggling to get enough nutrition from Rastall’s. With a sparse number of gluten-free items prepared in separation from gluten food – the options are jarring. Dinner on some nights may only be rice and vegetables. Some are struggling to form reliable and close friendships. While oppositely, others are juggling their overflowing social calendars. 

Life pressures outside run in conjunction with the strain that classes bring. Demands like writing overnight papers, memorizing exponential and natural log integrals, learning new languages, or preparing for presentations often consume the daylight after class.

On a desk sits the bouquet, now inside the water with the standard pack of flower food. As the days pass, the petals begin to shrivel up. The pinks are beginning to fade, the red roses have lost structure, and a few petals lie flat on the wood. The bouquet, once trimmed rhythmically by the florist, will soon no longer be recognizable.

The reality of Fourth Block is beginning to set in, and the rest over break becomes a distant memory. Late nights studying replace sleeping in late. Reading books or watching shows slowly falls down the list of priorities. The speed of classes and the increasing pressures of the block become ever-present and consuming.

It becomes challenging to find space to take a moment to breathe. Skipping one class entails a catch-up of six hours of material. Not finishing homework can become a nightmare in participation for the subsequent day. Often, the consequences of prioritizing mental health or taking a moment to stop will lead to a daunting pile-up of work.

Bargaining time is costly. No amount of water and no amount of nutrients can reverse the already burnt-out student. Once burnout is already underway, solutions of caffeine, adding more activities for distraction, or temporary endurance become unsustainable.

However, it is only for three and a half weeks, right?

Well, living for the breaks will continue a cycle of exhaustion, so prioritizing where the allocation of time is going is critical. Energy is finite. Pick precisely what is the most important and how much to give in each circumstance. Often that might mean sacrificing certain areas of importance. It is unrealistic to give 100 percent in every aspect of life. But holding patience and kindness for our walk is a productive first step to spending energy more sustainably.

Tape will not fix the petals once they have fallen.  

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