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Saturday, April 13, 2024
The Observer

Spring break looks different for everyone

Spring has always been my favorite season with the renewal of life outside, the smells of the loamy earth and the song of the black-capped chickadee. These little signs have always let me know that spring is in the air.

This year, when the South Bend permacloud parted like the Red Sea and spring finally came to Notre Dame, the campus was abuzz with the rumblings of spring break — the long-awaited time to get away from campus.  

However, before the campus was emptied by the homeward migration, the last Saturday before the break was highlighted by a plethora of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The highlight of the weekend came during the Irish revelry that transpired at the Legacy Village apartments. The Running of the Gingers, while a staple of many college campuses across the United States, could only be done justice by a school with such a legendary Irish heritage.

As a quasi-redhead (not even a member of the Notre Dame Redheads group chat), I found myself swamped with homework and committed to attending the Big Ten Tournament hockey game with my visiting family members. I gave no more thought to such a silly event until I got home from the tough loss of the hockey game, in which the Fightin’ Irish had taken a walloping from my mom’s beloved Spartans of Michigan State. When I opened my phone back in my dorm room, many of my friends had posted pictures celebrating. The videos of the Running of the Gingers kept coming as I kept clicking. Despite the fact that the students were criminally wronged by spring break being set the same week as St. Patrick’s Day, the group was clad in green and having a jolly time.       

The fear of missing out, more commonly referred to as FOMO, came rushing in as I repeatedly saw the clips of genuine want-to-be redheads running through the road of Legacy Village. ”FOMO is defined as the feeling that others are having fun that you are missing out on and is marked by a desire to stay informed about what others are doing — especially through social media. I knew I could have been there. All of my friends and classmates were having fun without me, celebrating the greatest of all Notre Dame holidays.

The ending of classes and hectic midterms welcomed spring break and I was headed home with a full slate of assignments to keep me busy. Although it was due to my own procrastination that many of these assignments remained incomplete, I shuddered as I walked out of Fisher Hall and realized how heavy my backpack was.   

When I reached my underrated spring break destination of Caro, MI, I began to receive a swarm of texts from family friends asking if I had participated in Notre Dame’s iteration of the Running of the Gingers. It pained me to admit to these people that I had missed the event that went viral on nearly every social media platform just to do my homework.  

At home, I set up camp at the end of my family’s dining room table and moved very little for the next few days. The time flew by in a flurry of internship applications, essays and an obscene amount of Walmart brand hummus. 

The feelings of FOMO were only exacerbated by the continual bombardment of my friends’ excursions littering my social media feed. Some went to Florida. Some went to Cabo. My Instagram timeline was like a worldwide geographical bingo board. Others went to visit people they knew in Paris, while some made the week a whole European tour.

All the while, I felt my to-do list get longer and the time spent with my family got shorter. The days felt like a cycle of waking up and typing out as much as I could before I inevitably fell into a TikTok rabbit hole or began to live vicariously through my friends’ social media escapades. My spring break was a cycle of the same songs on Spotify, the same begrudging BeReal post and working at the same table every day. I felt like I had spent more time than ever staring at my laptop and could swear that my eyes were starting to blur. What felt like paranoia was confirmed later in the week when I went to a routine eye appointment and was informed that my eyes were strained. I needed a new prescription.       

My spring break FOMO that started from missing the St. Patrick’s Day Running of the Gingers left me feeling like my spring break was incomplete and subpar in comparison to my friends' vacations. However, from my time at home, I did come away with some observations and lessons, even if they were learned the hard way.  

Although I wanted to be at the front of the Running of the Gingers or race away to spring break at an exotic location, that was not the type of spring break I needed this year. After a stressful first half of the semester and with an even more eventful second half to come, I am glad that I was able to recharge at home.

I question if I even wanted to travel for spring break or if I just wanted to because I felt as if everyone else did. I see now that a lot of my jealousy came from the fact that I want to travel to all of these places someday — just not today. I spent this spring break sleeping in and catching up on work, but after experiencing it I am glad that I did.        

I share this story of mine because I have a strong suspicion that I was not the only one who felt this way on campus. However, if you did travel for spring break that is something to celebrate. I hope you had a wonderful experience. However, I feel that it is important to remember that the people who went home for the break were not posting about it on social media; the majority of Notre Dame students did just.

You are not alone in feeling that you missed the boat to some faraway tropical island or alpine ski chateau.

Jack Sirianni is a sophomore studying political science, journalism and public policy. He is a proud Michigander who appreciates jamming to Pete Seeger, scouring eBay for vintage Notre Dame paraphernalia and collecting stickers from everywhere he goes. On campus, Jack can often be seen by the Founder’s Monument or in the line for Southwest Salad. For your favorite tidbits of knowledge or any other musings, his inbox is always open at jsirian2@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.