Photo: Avery Heeringa

Thanksgiving break. A rest period that arrives just when the pressure of academia nears a fever pitch. Many students like myself are excited by the idea of a long weekend and hope for little to no homework assigned over the break. Whether you go home to family or stay on campus, the break is a necessary pause from the semester. It’s during these days of quiet and rest that a switch occurs — what I like to think of as the “Final Social Deadline.” 

While doing some reading as a final wind down before classes resumed, it occurred to me how important the timing of Thanksgiving break is to a college student’s social life. Here at Columbia College Chicago, the break arrives during week twelve of a fifteen week semester, leaving only three weeks remaining afterwards — and two full weekends in between. Up until the break, time seems endless and the conclusion of the semester is too far away to really grasp if you don’t make a point to remind yourself. Everything done before the break is on a forward-moving track, keeping us on a productive ride of new experiences — that’s the hope at least. This could take the form of developing new friendships, gaining a new interest in a subject, or performing a complicated act of flirtation with a person of interest. 

As soon as the shortened week of class arrives, life takes a pause and forces everyone to take a step back from whatever it is they’ve been pursuing or working towards. Even if I really push myself to stay on top of everything, something about the trek back home and sleeping in my childhood bedroom forces me to forget about everything without fail. This well-deserved step away from it all includes a switch in the “track” of the semester. 

I often hear friends say, “Don’t worry about it, you’ve got all semester,” when referring to getting a long term goal of any kind done. I believe many of us students fail to recognize that time after Thanksgiving break is extremely limited. While it’s true that academic progress can still be achieved in the remaining three weeks (for Columbia specifically), this time feels like there’s little opportunity for any new friendships and romances to develop. Of course, we shouldn’t suddenly neglect the connections we’ve been steadily working on just because the end is nearing. However, I think it’s valuable to accept and recognize that change is imminent in an effort to avoid disappointment. 

As a junior, I’ve learned that this portion of the semester is to be approached not with a frustration that things maybe didn’t happen like you wished they would’ve, but to accept things for what they are. Yes, you might never see or speak to the seniors in your class that you’ve developed a friendly acquaintance with, but that doesn’t mean the time you spent with them was a waste. This acceptance mentality ties back to the concept of seasonal friends — those who come into your story at a certain point, and exit when the time comes. 

The same goes for romantic endeavors. There’s always winter break to keep in touch with a crush via social media or text, but there comes a point (Thanksgiving break) when you can get a strong sense of whether this “situationship” will grow into something more or not. I’m specifically referring to class crushes. You’ve been brought together by being enrolled in the same class, and while that can sometimes lead to more than a proximity, there’s also the chance that the romance will end with the course. Again, this doesn’t mean that anyone should drop who they’re interested in just because there’s only a couple weeks left. But don’t be surprised when busy schedules and dedication to finals takes over the time and energy you previously had to play the love game — especially the often grueling early stages of it. 

As someone who's experienced both of these types of connections fizzling out with the semester's end, I know how it’s easier said than done to be at peace with it. Human relationships are complex, and sometimes hurt to let go and it’s okay for things to not last longer than the situation that brought you and someone else together. Seasonal friendships and relationships are a part of the college experience, and shouldn’t be viewed with sadness, frustration, or disappointment. It’s natural to want things to last forever, but it’s important to keep things in perspective and recognize that once you reach the“final social deadline,” you might need to accept the way things are. Choose to be at peace with the imminent change, instead of feeling resentful or frustrated that you’re not at a place you wish you envisioned you would be.

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