One of the most terrifying aspects of my second semester at Swat is the power yoga class I’m taking. Okay, maybe terrifying is a strong word, but if you knew me, you’d understand why a class about balance and coordination scares me so much. I didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until I was fourteen years old. I walk into walls with alarming frequency. I have been known to trip over pebbles and fall out of perfectly stationary seats. I have zero athletic ability.
Yoga is hard in ways that I’m not even sure I know how to explain. It combines a gracefulness that I have never managed to develop with a necessary concentration on physical movements. This means that while I’m forcing myself into positions like Downward Dog, High Plank or Happy Baby, I can’t be thinking about my Sociology reading, or the people I need to interview for my newspaper article or the funny story that I want to tell my friend Linda. And that mental discipline might be even more difficult to deal with than my rigid muscles and tendency to fall over.
At least all that physical stretching is matched by the way I have to stretch my time. The second week of the term is when life at Swat starts getting crazy again, especially when you’ve committed yourself to a relationship with something like The Phoenix that takes up 15 hours a week. But that busyness is okay, more than okay, in fact, because even when it’s tiring, I really enjoy being kept busy.
I think something common to a lot of Swatties is a desire to be active in a community as many communities as humanly possible. Everyone ends up joining groups, and whether those are tutoring clubs, religious or political organizations, sports teams, or even something as light hearted and recreational as a knitting club, everyone eventually realizes that the days when you could take things easy are long gone– if they ever even existed.
There’s a lot to be said for relaxing on the weekends by sleeping late, going to a party, or getting dinner outside the Swarthmore bubble with a few friends. Swatties enjoy that too, of course; we’re only human. But being a student here requires a love of work, both academic and extracurricular, and genuine enjoyment of being productive.