Work or play?

choices blogIt’s the end of the long weekend. After working hard on homework all day Sunday and a good part of Monday, I realize I haven’t left the building since Saturday afternoon.

All of a sudden, severe cabin … err … residence hall fever begins to set in. I’m dying to go outside, but I am fully aware of how much homework and other responsibilities I have to take care of before the start of another hectic week, not to mention the fact that the GRE is looming over my head with just a few days left to study. What am I, a senior looking to enjoy the last few months here, to do?

Immediately, I begin to come up with things I can do outside of the confines of my room and the cafeteria. I’m dying to roam the city, to go get Starbucks — better yet, to go ice skating at the Ribbon with my new skates. I talk to Kevin, and we decide to do just that-spend the evening skating at the park. Sounds great, right?

It sure does. Until panic and anxiety begin to set in. I glance back at my assignment notebook and am reminded of just how much needs to be taken care of before bedtime, which I am genuinely hoping (as always) isn’t terribly late tonight. If I go ice skating, if I leave for even a few hours, I will be losing valuable time that I could be accomplishing tasks with and preparing for the upcoming week, which does include that darn GRE test (Saturday, nonetheless…UGH).

I quickly call Kevin, who also has a lot to take care of before tomorrow morning. He, being the rational yet highly irrational individual that he is, decides we need to flip a coin to determine what to do. Though I am not one to put my decisions into the hands of a coin, I go along with it, because I have absolutely no idea what to do. I know that in prior years, and maybe even in just prior semesters, I would have simply called him and said forget it to the whole thing. There is too much to do, and I want to get it done. But this time, it was different. Heads-we go skating; tails-we stay home and work.

It’s tails.

We aren’t going. Or are we?

After some discussion on the choice, it all becomes clear to me. We need to go. We deserve the break. We’ve both been working hard all weekend, and it’s only the first weekend of the semester. But then I remember the GRE, and I can’t give in to the leisure time.

Until I stop lying to myself and recognize the fact that even if we stayed in and agreed to do work, I would most likely fail to even work the entire evening. Chances are, I would work for a short time, decide to reward myself with Netflix for a “little while,” and wind up laying in bed for over an hour, getting nothing done, when I could be out enjoying myself instead.

That’s it. We’re going. And I’m not going to regret it, either. Because we won’t stay that long, and as soon as I get back, I’ll get to work on whatever needs to be accomplished for this week, and I won’t regret that I got out and got some exercise and fresh air.

Whether or not you can relate and/or sympathize with my dilemma of the weekend, it’s an important thing to consider. We wind up having to make choices just like these every single day, and prioritizing is always the answer, plus a little consideration of your overall well-being and happiness.

I know that if I would have stayed in and chosen not to go skating, I would regret my choice and would be starting the week off on the wrong foot, disgusted with the amount of time I managed to waste on Netflix or napping. By making the choice to go enjoy myself for even just a little bit, I am giving my brain a break and making a point to enjoy the city when I can.

When I’m graduated, I’m not going to just take quick blue line ride to the Ribbon and skate around, or head to the beach after dark to enjoy the view, or take an evening bike ride through the Loop. Sure, there may be more “free” time as a grown-up, but there will always be something else that needs to be done, or work in the morning.

And while I am in no way belittling school because it is a huge responsibility — we all need to realize that this is also the time to have a little (OK, sometimes more than a little) fun. If we don’t make decisions like I did tonight, we will never be truly satisfied with our college experience.

After all, the actual UIC Experience requires you to take part in things like city exploration.

So what’s stopping you right now? An assignment? Something for your leadership organization? Set aside time to get things done. Always have a plan so you don’t wind up drowning in responsibilities.

But also make time for fun. Make sure you are giving yourself a break and are taking advantage of everything around you. Check out those free museum days everyone is posting about! Do something for yourself. You can thank me later.


Holly Brenza (F)


Holly Brenza is a senior majoring in English and minoring in communications and management. In her spare time, Holly enjoys playing with her puppy, Bear, and watching the Blackhawks and White Sox, reading and trying out new recipes. After graduation, she hopes to work in public relations.


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