I’m William Repetto, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the “’Cat in the Stacks” column. I’m your ‘cat. I’ll be posting about college life, about learning and growing here at Villanova, and, of course, about the Falvey Memorial Library’s role.
In the week to week grind of the semester, between your learning, blogging, teaching, or other work responsibilities, or whatever it is you may do, it’s often easy to overlook the fundamentals. We get so caught up in meeting deadlines that producing our best work can become an afterthought.
This week’s ’Cat in the Stacks is about wiping the slate clean, about reading between the deadlines (so to speak) to find the personal lessons at the heart of all our challenges. Here are three techniques toward getting back to basics that I’ve learned over my years of undergrad and semesters of graduate school.
1. A Little Positivity
I think I’ll start this post way down in South Philly, which I was lucky enough to visit for a blog post earlier this semester. I’m speaking, of course, of Lincoln Financial field, where national anthem protests have spiraled out of control into a national (and international?) controversy.
Through the fog of controversy, though, a local hero has risen: Carson Wentz. While his play on the field has been nothing short of stellar, I’m speaking more specifically of his actions off the field. A story came to prominence this week of his fulfilling the dying wishes of a young Delaware boy nicknamed the “Dutch Destroyer.”
You can brush up on the story yourself, but to make a long explanation short: if Wentz can bring us back to humanity through the fog of national controversy, the same principle can apply in your personal life. Do something special for someone else, or, better yet, use the privileges you’ve been granted to lift another’s spirits; these are strategies you can use to find a little positivity.
2. Laugh a Little
Here’s an embarrassing personal anecdote: as a native Philadelphian, I find the need to take any and all out-of-towners staying in the area to a Flyers game. I was lucky enough to take my co-worker and PATW writer Hunter Houtzer to the Flyers-Oilers game this past weekend.
Now let me say that in all my years of going to Flyers games, even the times when I took romantic interests to the game, I have never, not once ever been featured on the “Kiss Cam” – until I took my co-worker Hunter. We panicked! We were stuck! What could we do? The whole stadium “boos!” if you don’t participate. So we did it: one quick kiss between long-time Falvey blog contributors.
Why am I telling you this? Because it gave us the opportunity to laugh at ourselves. Between the hours of the graduate assistantship and the time we spend earning our degrees, graduate students can sometimes forget to live a little. The same goes for attendees and employees at universities from top to bottom.
Find a reason to laugh a little, or (even worse!) have a sense of humor about yourself, and you’ll find yourself laying an excellent foundation for mental well-being.
3. Open your Mind
We hear this advice so often that it can become cliché, but stick with me for a moment because I had the opportunity to attend two events yesterday that reminded me how fundamental opening one’s mind is to learning and growing in the modern world.
The first was aptly titled “Open Your Mind to Open Access.” At this event, I learned all about different opportunities for using or contributing to open access outlets, but I also learned generally about the structure of academia. I learned that, beyond meeting deadline after deadline, academics requires a general knowledge of institutional structures.
Next, and right afterward, I attended the Alfred F. Mannella and Rose T. Lauria-Mannella Endowed Distinguished Speaker Series lecture by Dr. Spencer M. Di Scala. It featured information on U.S.-Italian relations during WWI. I’ve spent so much time learning fiction in the past two years that I had forgotten how much fun it is to listen to the stories that history contains!
As we turn the corner into those hectic final weeks of the semester, I hope you’ll take these lessons to heart, Wildcats! Getting back to basics can sometimes make for smoother sailing through the tumultuous currents ahead.
Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University. (Graphics courtesy of Bitmoji, and Hunter and I spending hours perfecting our representations!)
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