The first few months of the year are always weird for me. There’s this sense of displacement that comes with the transition between years that usually lasts through February, heightened this year by the fact that this is also a new decade. At this point, the year hasn’t quite sorted itself out yet. You’re still getting used to your new class schedule, still figuring out if that New Year’s resolution is going to stick. It doesn’t help that January is always the longest month of the year (was I really home only a few weeks ago?) and the weather is dreary. I haven’t even been back to Tufts for a month, and this semester feels two years long already. This disjointed feeling can be overwhelming, stressful, and even depressing. The interminable nature of the liminal moment feels like the transition you’re waiting for may never happen.
To get myself out of this discombobulation, I’ve been turning to exercise and sun. Last semester, I spent six hours a week dancing with the Sarabande Dance Ensemble, practicing for our fall show. This semester, I’ve upped it to around ten hours a week. I’m also choreographing my own piece for the spring show, and I’m taking a ballet class through the Tufts Dance program (at this point, I should probably just start sleeping in Jackson Gym). On top of all the dance I’m doing, I try to get off campus at least twice a week to go to a barre class. The studio I go to is a ten minute walk to Davis Square + one stop on the T + another ten minute walk away from campus. This commute helps me force fresh air into my schedule, along with two more hours a week of a great workout. All of the endorphins I’ve been generating through these exercises have helped me get my brain out of the strange winter funk it likes to fall into this time of year.
As well, I treasure the days when the clouds part and Medford is treated to a little slice of sun. On warm, bright days (funny how my definition of “warm” has changed from 70 degrees to high 40s since moving here), I lean against the window in my French classroom and let the sun wash over me. It’s a short, sweet moment in my day when I can capture a bit of the heat I left behind in California. As well, my roommate and I like to do our homework on the picnic tables outside of Miller Hall when the weather’s nice. Every time the sun peeks out from behind a cloud, we rotate like sunflowers, grasping the rays before they inevitably get tucked away again.
What’s been most important for me during these gloomy winter months has been taking care of myself, mentally and physically. When I’m craving a mental release, I go to my favorite bookstore in Porter Square and buy books that I want to read, not just ones that are assigned for class. When campus gets too monotonous, my friends and I pop into Boston for a change of scenery and a bit of adventure. Just this past weekend, I went to two art museums in two days (Tufts students get into the Museum of Fine Arts for free!). If I want cake for dessert, I allow myself that luxury. When I want to dance, I dance. If I need to put homework aside for a while and watch the newest episode of The Bachelor, I’m allowed to do that. I’m trying not to shame myself for putting myself first.
I know that spring will come eventually, even if it’s not as near as I’m used to (California spring starts in February, which I’m told is not the case here). I know that my new schedule will turn into routine within a matter of weeks. I know that this liminal moment will end and I’ll feel like life is back to normal soon. For now, I’m focusing on gratitude for the life I get to live and finding joy in the simplest moments--a hot cup of tea on a chilly evening and the sun peeking out from behind a cloud.