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The importance of transition phases

Bianca Almada | Wednesday, April 24, 2013

College students, especially those at Notre Dame, reap the benefits of multiple perks. They get to focus on simply learning and developing interests rather than stressing about the fickle and competitive work force. They get easy housing with all of their friends and readily available prepared food, not yet having to deal with paying bills, managing finances or even grocery shopping or cooking. They are surrounded by opportunities to engage in exciting programs, research and events, meeting some of their generation’s most interesting people. College students, however, often do not have everything. One thing barely any college students get enough of is sleep.
Sleep just seems to come last on most students’ list of priorities. A student’s work is never done. He or she always has another assignment to work on, another paper to continue writing or another exam to prepare for. Between classes, clubs, jobs and assignments, a student could easily utilize all 24 hours of the day productively. As this is physically impossible, students often end up making use of as many hours as physically possible before crashing. Even the weekends often do not provide a solace for sleep. It is the time for students to utilize their late night hours for college shenanigans – going to parties, planned events, impromptu adventures and the like. Though this is all great and fun, sleep is once again left by the wayside.
In the grand scheme of things, sleep just does not seem as important as other aspects of life. It is essential to perform well in classes, it is crucial to become involved in activities and events and it is also important to have fun and enjoy everything the college experience has to offer. So people reason sleep can wait, that sleep is for quitters and you can sleep when you’re dead.
For those of you familiar with my bi-weekly column, I have spent this semester discussing transitions – from summer time, to personal evolutions and to the entire college experience itself. Sleep is another transition. It is the in-between of one day and the next, giving us the opportunity to recharge, gather ourselves and perhaps reflect on the activities of the past day and the ones soon to come. It is the only time among the business of human life during which we can stop and do absolutely nothing. The human spirit floats in limbo, letting the subconscious take over for a few short hours. It is a period of waiting for the next day to come, a day that will bring new opportunities and challenges.
It is easy to overlook the importance of these transition periods. They do not seem as important as everything else to come. People tend to focus on just keeping going rather than pausing to rest or reflect. But no one has the power to go on infinitely without pausing every once and a while. Not only would it be physically impossible, but it would also be emotionally draining and confusing. One would eventually lose his or her sense of direction as his or her body and mind was put on autopilot. We need our breaks and we need our transitions to give us the recharge we need to keep going in a direction with which we can be satisfied.
We need sleep to rest up for the day to come. We need eureka moments and learning experiences to influence our sense of identity and direction, and we need college to give us the time and resources to help us decide what we want to do. It is all the in-between time. You need it. I need it. Do not underestimate it or overlook it, because it will soon be gone.
It has been a pleasure to write to you this semester. Hopefully we will meet again.
Bianca Almada is a freshman residing in Cavanaugh Hall. She is studying English, Spanish and journalism. She can be contacted at balmada@nd.edu
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.