Institute the Pre-Shopping Period Shopping Period

graphic by Julia Hedges

I have a proposition. Yale University should hold a pre-Shopping Period Shopping Period in the middle of winter break to teach us to savor the time we have at home. Let me explain.

Approximately two weeks ago, I found myself alone at home on a Wednesday. My parents had gone to work, it was sub-zero outside, and I had not a single thing in the world to do. I was three spoonfuls into my fourth bowl of Raisin Bran — one bowl per every episode of Planet Earth I’d watch — and I was getting dangerously stuffed. To appease the growing, sharp pain in my abdomen, I slouched upstairs to my bedroom and sprawled on my bed, maximizing my surface area. Staring at the baby blue ceiling of my childhood bedroom, it really hit me. I was bored out of my mind. I wanted to be back in New Haven with things to do and people to see. I wanted it to be Shopping Period already.

Now if only it was.

If these last two weeks have taught me anything, it’s the power of regret. Specifically, the regret of wasting your entire winter break. I understand that I’m not alone in this struggle. Upon the completion of our very first class, friends and I gathered and lamented all we had missed out on. I reminisced, recalling the days spent wallowing away in isolation: eyes tired from ceaseless TED Talk surfing, legs sore from inactivity, and brain blighted from boredom after consuming an unhealthy amount of useless information. Only then did I realize that all the time I spent passively relaxing could have been spent actively doing nothing. Passive relaxation, to be clear, is the process of doing nothing while waiting to do something. Actively doing nothing is the process of doing nothing to really just do nothing. The active form allows one to enter a state of flow, in which they are consumed by the present (yes, I am in Psychology and the Good Life). I should’ve relished the days I didn’t get out of bed until 2:30 p.m., ate a copious amount of food without being shamed by pretentious recipe cards, and didn’t walk so much as a tenth of a mile (according to the MyHealth app). We have all felt the retroactive shame of having done both too much and not enough over break, and at that moment, I realized something had to change.

Thus enters the pre-Shopping Period Shopping Period.

Exactly two weeks after the last final of Fall semester (right between the time you stop counting the days you’ve been home and before you start counting how many days you have left), there should be a fake Shopping Period in which everyone, from near and far, must return to campus and face the music. For three days, the school will put us through a bootcamp, requiring five classes minimum per day. On Monday, you’ll go to three oversubscribed seminars and two QR’s for good measure. On Tuesday, you’ll try your hand at finding a science gut (and fail all seven times). Wednesdays, you will return to the EP&E seminar you shopped your freshman fall for 10 minutes before “taking a bathroom break,” running back to your dorm in fright, and switching your major to anthropology. (And this time, you have to sit through the entire thing). You’ll find yourself bouncing between the Watson Center, the YUAG, and that dark closet in the basement of LC you mistook for a classroom that one time — for twenty minutes. You will be injected with a 72 hour intravenous dose of the hell that is Shopping Period.

And then you get to go home.

Fake Shopping Period would wake us up and snap us out of the foolish boredom of Winter Break. It would teach us to truly savor every second of nothingness. Friends don’t call you to hang out? Who cares! At least you’re not crying in the back of Macro. Don’t have anywhere to be? Savor it! Two weeks from now you’ll have 8 places to be at once. Slept in till 4 and feel guilty about wasting the day? Nonsense! You can stock up on sleep weeks in advance — trust me, I saw it in a TED Talk over break. Studies show that at least one food coma a week does wonders for mental health. Aside from the night terrors and cold sweats, the final two weeks of break will be the most relaxing fortnight of your life. Every second will be savored, every uneventful night will be cherished, and you’ll arrive back at school more rejuvenated than ever. See, all it takes is a little nip in the bud to really ignite your sense of laziness, and nothing quite like three days in the frying pan will make you revel in the chill of winter break isolation.