Oberlin Blogs

The Romanticization of Commitment

March 14, 2014

Alison Kronstadt ’16

The first time I met my academic advisor — who is unquestionably one of the wisest people I've met here — she said something to me I'll never forget. "At some other schools, they romanticize going out and getting drunk five nights a week. At Oberlin, we romanticize signing ourselves up for an impossible amount of commitments and never sleeping."

I had been on campus for a grand total of four days, and distinctly remember thinking that I had absolutely no interest in the former, but that the latter seemed like a silly thing to idealize as well. Eighteen months, 65 credits, one club sport, two volunteer positions, and one club foundation later, I look back on that moment and laugh — at least for a moment, until I remember that I have a meeting in ten minutes and have to refocus.

Don't get me wrong: I love everything I do, and have spent many a glorious hour at Oberlin on nothing more rigorous than watching my friend eat the biggest ice cream cone the Stevie soft-serve machine has probably ever made, or having a top-of-our-lungs Wicked sing-a-long with my roommates on a Thursday night. Still, my advisor was right — there's a certain glamor to being that classic Oberlin kid who's always busy. Only after a year and a half at this school, I've realized that I'd need a time machine and the ability to Apparate to really experience everything that this school has to offer. Failing those things, the best I can do is make an effort to get outside my routine, to always be on the lookout for new things here.

That's where this blog comes in. Every post I write will be about me trying something completely new — participating in a new event, learning a new ability, you name it. I don't expect to be good at all of them; in fact, I hope I'm not. It's important to have passions and talents, but there's a certain fun in running headlong in the complete opposite direction of your skill set and seeing what happens. I don't really know where it'll take me, but I know I'm beyond excited to get there.

Now I'm sorry, I have to go. I have a meeting in ten minutes.

Responses to this Entry

I hate this so much about Oberlin. Why don't we go for, oh, I don't know, health? Balance? Joy? Utopia? Our obsession with doing ALL THE THINGS is so damaging, in so many ways - and I say this as someone who has always had this obsession and has yet to learn how to cope effectively.

I do, however, like that Oberlin harbors the sort of person who will run headlong in the opposite direction of their skill set, because that's AWESOME and I can't wait to see what shenanigans you get into. (Psssst do tumbling/acro/something else circus!)

Anyway, welcome to the blogs! See you around. :)

Posted by: Ida on March 14, 2014 10:35 PM

Yesterday I met a really wonderful prospie who asked what you can only learn about Oberlin when you experience it in person, and it was a really hard question to answer — but I tried, and what I came up with was that you can never really recreate the wonderful vortex of decision, options, and perpetual FOMO (fear of missing out) as you can when you're actually here on campus. Trying to reconcile the 12 things happening at 8pm on any given evening: story of most Obies' lives. (Mine especially.)

The interesting thing, though, that the prospie asked as a later question, was what I'm really passionate about right now, and it was great to be able to answer and point to all the things I did as a student that helped lay the groundwork for my current passions, even if I couldn't figure out how to pursue all of them when I was in college. So many of those interests came from putting myself out there, trying things I didn't even know existed before I came to Oberlin, and I'm all the better for it.

On a lighter note: are you taking recommendations of things to try? Because I can supply you with QUITE a list.

Posted by: Ma'ayan on March 17, 2014 12:17 PM

The title of this is LIFE. It's something so attractive about over-committing and doing everything up under the sun just so you can be more special than a ball of glitter. At the same time, you often get that rushed feeling where a 15 minute break is the highlight of your day.

Over commitment's serenade is sweet, trust me I know. Personally, I like to have mental health days where I get back to basics. I play music from home, go on Skype dates and write about all the things I don't have time to think about. There's so much to do on this campus (new and old) so best of luck to you! And welcome to the blogs!

Posted by: Alex on March 25, 2014 8:34 PM

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