Vacant Space


I am sure that everyone at Cambridge appreciates how difficult it is to manage the constant pressure of deadlines and to make time to switch off from the thought of the work that needs doing (even if you’re not necessarily doing it...). Perhaps even more difficult is making time to engage with hobbies that require you to mentally ‘switch off’, but that you don’t possess any particularly amazing talent in. Competition is a dominant part of the Cambridge environment, but there is a lot to be said for keeping some things separate from this, whether it’s picking up a pencil and sketching, with no real purpose, or playing an instrument, with no set goal in mind.

As someone who loves messing around with creative ideas in the holidays - attempting to sew an item of clothing, and laughing when it turns out wrong; picking up a guitar for the first time in a few years, and realising how much I can vaguely remember and need to relearn - it’s not about the product of this time, it’s about the time itself. I’m working hard to try and incorporate this more into term time. I really hate the feeling of having to ‘stop’ being creative for the sake of working, and have found a few things which balance indulging being ‘aimlessly’ arty without requiring hours of time with ‘nothing’ to show for them.

Get creative and make a plan for your week. The bullet journal trend is huge right now and especially when looking at the masterpieces out there on Instagram or Pinterest, it can seem like a real time commitment. Yet, making a weekly spread could be done on a sheet of paper, no need to splash out on a fancy notebook and no need to involve elaborate drawing. I love my Sunday night ritual of setting up a spread for the week ahead, leaving each day blank and then filling it in as I get stuck into my week (and inevitably behind on my schedule).

Go for a walk. It doesn’t need to be far (twenty minutes from Pembroke along the river to Lammas land and back is lovely on a bright morning). Taking time to enjoy being outside without going to or from a supervision is refreshing, and gives that same feeling of enjoying the space you’ve made in your day for a little bit of ‘dead’ time.

My last suggestion would be to take a break from going to trough; grab a few friends and enjoy cooking and eating together. It doesn’t need to be fancy (and I understand that the kitchen situation doesn’t really allow it to be) but making something nice and then enjoying it is a way of getting into a different headspace and remembering that there’s more to life than the next essay or example sheet.

None of these ideas are really ‘going’ anywhere. Your weekly plan isn’t going to be published anywhere, your walk isn’t timed, and your food won’t be judged. Enjoying pockets of ‘empty’ time here and there is a valid activity, and we would probably all benefit from trying to make this space in our lives a bit more.