My five day timeout

Sophomore slump

Stephen Kolison

Around week five of school, my patience started to wear thin. Not only was that beginning to disappear, but my sanity was pretty much nonexistent at that point. If you’d seen me on the quad, I probably looked like a deer in headlights. Freshmen would ask me how I was so calm and I would reply, “It’s easy. I’m already dead on the inside. I let my tears choose the best answer on tests.” The last few weeks have been torture for me and probably everyone else on campus. If fall break had arrived one week later, my hair would either be gray or have fallen off of my head.

For a whole five days, I was left alone in my dorm without roommates. The minute the last person went out the door, I could feel my mind and body completely shut down. It was probably one of the greatest feelings a human being could experience. There has been nothing but running for the past few months. Some people raced from one side of campus to the other, others raced to the library to study and then there were people like me whose thoughts raced. Luckily, I was able to get my running thoughts down to a really bad limp.

I have thought some things while being isolated that I would not have imagined would come to mind. Break has felt like a big timeout that’s meant for people who are old enough to vote and pay taxes. I never understood the purpose of timeouts, so I called my very lovely mother—who is probably reading this—and asked her why she put me in a corner for five minutes. She gave me only two reasons: “Well, it kept me from smacking you in the head but it also kept you from hurting yourself.” In her own twisted, authoritative way, it makes sense.

I was going about as crazy as any overwhelmed child. When a person’s stress levels get way too high, they end up acting out in ways they’ll later regret. Whether it is crying in your room, lashing out at your roommates or even eating an entire pizza on your own, your behavior starts to become a little more erratic. For no good reason I was angry, tired and always hungry, bound to do something that would take a very long time to fix. This time I wouldn’t have had my parents to come in and put me in my place. Instead, the world would have come in and smacked me hard. While parents discipline with a loving hand, the world disciplines with its pimp hand; it is not kind, and it is not forgiving. So what I loved about this break the most was that it kept me from going further than a 10 on the craziness scale and back to a three.

You can’t hurt yourself when you’re alone and trying to reflect on everything that lead up to that point. In timeouts you do absolutely nothing. It’s quite ironic that in that nothingness, you find everything. You find your sanity. You find the responsibility you should be taking for your life. I found the energy that I thought I had lost the minute I got my first syllabus. All of a sudden, it was like I knew how to come back to classes better than before I left. I am so motivated to change my behavior, that I may even make it to my morning classes on time.

During fall break, I did indeed get a break from classwork and other people. However, I never got a break from myself. There is a misconception that alone time means to sit around and do nothing, but doing nothing is actually doing something. I allowed myself the time it took to heal and in turn I can finish the semester. The best thing anyone could ask for is some alone time. At age 2, we have taken way more naps than I have of late. Maybe it is about time we start taking more timeouts as well.