On the necessity of baby blankets, Japanese food, and ‘Harry Potter’

By Jessie Kuenzel
Staff Writer

My boyfriend makes fun of me because I will, regularly and eagerly, drive 45 minutes at rush hour, to get a bowl of soup and an order of Gyoza at a Japanese restaurant in the town I grew up in.

He makes fun of me because I am constantly listening to the “Harry Potter” books on tape, or rather the converted mp3s of the books on tape. Walking to class? “Harry Potter.” Folding laundry? “Harry Potter.”  Showering? “Harry Potter.” Basically any time there’s a quiet moment, I’m filling that silence with Jim Dale’s beautiful voice. I estimated once, and I’ve listened to the full set—all seven books—at least ten times over the last five years; that’s 70,240 minutes.

My boyfriend also makes fun of me because I still sleep with my baby blanket. Although, to be fair, he doesn’t make fun of me nearly as much for this as he does for other things. ”

Contrary to what it might look like, this is not an article about how mean my boyfriend is. It’s not really about my boyfriend at all. Or even about me.

What these odd, and seemingly unrelated behaviors, have in common are is that they are all my methods of de-stressing. I mean, how can listening to Harry Potter destroy the last Horcrux and head off to finish off Voldemort once and for all not be relaxing?

As school swings into full gear, it’s hard not to be overcome with those oh-god-there’s-too-much-going-on, it’s-3-a.m.-and-I-still-have-two-more-hours-of-homework, and I-can’t-do-this-anymore feelings. Even the best of students—those “do it all” people who can juggle a job, an internship, five classes, and still find time in the morning to actually shower and look presentable—are bound to feel the pressure sometimes.

I have pretty bad anxiety, and my stress levels can shoot through the roof from even the simplest of things, like going grocery shopping, or making eye contact with someone on the T. Going out after a long day of classes? Forget about it; you’ll most likely find me in my room curled up under my quilt napping to the sweet melody of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

So the real question—the question that students have been trying to answer since the dawn of academia—is: how do we deal with this stress before we just shut down completely?

De-stressing is such an important part of our day, and yet it tends to fall by the wayside much of the time for many people. Between the classes, the homework, and trying to have a social life on the side, who has time for that?

Imagine a world—just for a minute—where the most important thing we walked away from college with was our education, not our transcripts. Imagine four years where the most memorable parts of your classes were the outstanding lectures, not the cramming for exams or frantically writing final papers.

When did we get to the point when—given the choice between studying and sleep—many students choose to pull all-nighters? How do we rationalize making ourselves so crazy over grades and exams that we forget to actually sit back and enjoy the time we spend in college, when we are paying yearly tuition prices to be here that are often times higher than the salaries we will be making in our first out-of-college jobs?

In short, why has what is supposed to be the best time of our lives—because no one really has the best time of their lives in high school, despite what everyone says—suddenly become all about the stress?

Now, this is most definitely not a criticism of Simmons in any way, shape, or form. The administration here is actually really great about offering students plenty of services to assist and cope with the pressures of academic life—and just of life in general. This is merely an observation of one student who, in her many years of school, has noticed that she spends more time worrying about completing her reading assignments than actually absorbing what she reads.

We all have found ways to deal with the harder aspects of our lives, whether it be therapy, exercise, or eating a bowl of udon soup with a baby blanket draped over your neck while listening to some quality books on tape. But wouldn’t it be nicer if there was just less stress in our lives to begin with?

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