A quarter ends, but PLAY must go on

Ryan Wenzel

As the quarter winds down, Northwestern students let out their final complaints and begin looking forward to time off and a new beginning. Some can’t wait for their economics class to end, and others look forward to relinquishing extracurricular commitments.

I’ve found myself in this position countless times at NU. I volunteered for Dance Marathon last year on the Dancer Relations committee, and while those 30 hours are among my favorite, my relatively open Spring Quarter schedule was a welcome respite. Similarly, at the end of my sophomore year, I was eager to move out of Willard Residential College and into an apartment. I loved living in Willard – the rooms were huge, I made dozens of friends and the dining hall wasn’t half-bad – but the prospects of having my own room and more independence were enthralling.

We’re stressed by what we take on, but as academic and extracurricular overachievers, we tend to define ourselves by what we accomplish and the activities we devote our free time to. Theater students talk endlessly about upcoming auditions and performances while aspiring journalists interrogate one another about internship plans. We have a love-hate relationship with our commitments.

But for the first time, the end of the quarter scares me. I’m not taking a new set of classes or taking on a different position in The Daily or PLAY – I’m completely disengaging by going abroad for 10 weeks.

This bothers me for several reasons, the first of which is somewhat childish: It saddens me that PLAY will move forward without me. I’ve written or edited for this publication for seven quarters, since Fall Quarter of my freshman year. I’ve come to define myself as a PLAY staffer – I’ve lost friends, changed my major twice and transferred into a different school, but I’ve always written or edited for PLAY. I’m sure these 12 pages will be in good hands under the leadership of the illustrious Kim Jeffries, but it’s strange to think of it moving on without me.

The second reason leaving PLAY saddens me is more significant, but probably sounds just as ridiculous. I’ve come to define myself by my involvement with PLAY. It makes me feel productive, my work with it has helped me get job offers, I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the newsroom and I’ve met countless amazing and talented people, many of whom are now close friends. Who am I without PLAY? What will I do when I return? I’m not sure – at least not at this point. But for the first time, I feel indebted to a job.

This column isn’t intended to be a shameless plug for PLAY. What would be the point? You’re reading it already. But if my experience here has taught me anything, it’s that the most memorable and edifying experiences take place outside the classroom.

Medill junior Ryan Wenzel is the PLAY editor. He can be reached at [email protected]