Not So Absent November 11, 2013 3 Comments Share tweet Kevin Rouff By: Kevin Rouff You’ve all heard the line that these university years will be “the best of your lives.” If this is so, then we have a sadly short amount of time to enjoy ourselves. Is this what you’d imagined for your “best”? Deciding what the university experience should and could be is a long, convoluted track that requires a lot of stumbling, and the drunkard’s walk is sometimes more beneficial than a whey-fueled sprint forward. What I mean is, if you are unsure of what you want to gain from your time here, then take your damn time. Rushing through these years will only stress, strain and strip your enthusiasm and morale. If you need time to choose, to breathe, to mull things over, take it. Over and over again, I listen to recent graduates telling me they wish they had taken their time with a “leave of absence” to pursue a passion, try out life in a new city or simply to work from home and take a breather. They advise me to enjoy my time, but the truth of the matter is that the time does not necessarily have to be spent here. Rather, it is this specific period in our lives that we should take advantage of, one that is youthful and detached from the weight of daily commuting, endless bills, household management, work tensions and so on. There are countless opportunities to take advantage with some time away, and the leave can be beneficial to your academic/social life upon return. We are presented on a quarterly basis (at the least) with decisions that demand a goal (the “major”), a specific interest (the “minor”) or simple curiosity, and it is difficult to be fully assured in our decisions even with these. Why shoot into the dark hesitantly with your classes and with your self identity when you can actually try out your area of interest for some time? Leave of absence is daunting to some due to the word “absence.” Some students say that you’ll lose your social circles, you’ll fall behind in classes or you’ll lose the drive, but none of these are actually true. I’ll avoid being grim with the thought that this may be beneficial as a filtering process but rather assure you that these suspicions are all false. You will not “fall behind” or sublimate from Stanford’s mind– you will not be very absent at all. Young fresh minds don’t forget faces that quickly, nor will you lose your academic groove. If anything, your experiences away will complement your studies, less directly than indirectly by virtue of a revamped drive and renewed curiosity. And your friends? Think of it this way: after being tested by absence, you and your friends might value each other’s presence more than before (and the filter idea holds here you’ll lose some, but well, you get it). Clearly not everybody needs a leave, but in no way should students be intimidated by the leave as a sign of resignation or because it could result in irrevocable absence. Some truly have no desire or see no point to interrupting the four-year flow, and they can easily justify why they are marching through their prime time. Though I still think they could benefit from a step away from the always green and always trimmed lawns we wallow around in, to taste some other flavors beyond those of Coupa, I cannot say “should”. But others may not quite understand where they stand within these four years, and they may feel swept beneath the torrent of the time moving over them. These students should take a moment to get away holding lights on a film set, shuffling among the cubicles of a large corporation or among the tables of cafes, lugging a rucksack around the world or a briefcase on the daily commute, writing on chalkboards for a classroom of eager eyes or on the keyboards of some newsroom, working with an NGO or GO, digging in the fields of a WWOOF farm or in the pages of a library, mixing liquids in a lab or bar, hootin’ and hollerin’ in some band or at some activist demonstration or simply being with one’s family or alone with oneself to experience something other than the life that has been neatly presented to them, something that could all ameliorate these “best years.” Besides all of this, well, you could take a breather and let these years last just a moment longer. Contact Kevin Rouff at email@example.com leave of absence 2013-11-11 Kevin Rouff November 11, 2013 3 Comments Share tweet Subscribe Click here to subscribe to our daily newsletter of top headlines.