As of late, first-year Cornellians got a brief glimpse into what Ithaca winters would look like with the first snowfall of the year.
The days leading up to the winter season have been an illusion as to what winter would actually be like, we had a mixture of sun, clouds and rainy weather — nonetheless, all were warm days. Even among the — at times — excessive cloudiness I still felt this overwhelming presence of gratitude in my life.
With the clock turned back, I expected myself to fall into this all-to-familiar cycle of seasonal depression. Most people can relate to feeling less happy when the day’s sunlight only seems to last for just a few hours. It can feel isolating. Yet, for some reason — I haven’t felt this way thus far. Instead of letting my abhorrence of winter cause me to give into the feelings of aloneness that winter implies, I’ve been oddly cozy. Welcoming this year’s winter into my life with open arms has been a game changer. Though it may be because of this overarching knowledge that I’ve entered a new chapter of life, or simply the fact that I love the holiday season.
Even the simple prospect of watching the snowfall from my dorm window, as my newly purchased snow globe sits proudly on its window cill. It is an experience unique to winter — a cozy feeling that cannot be curated at any other time of the year. Bundling up in the fluffiest blanket you can find and purchasing some holiday lights just may be the antidote — or perhaps a coping mechanism — to the numbness many people experience at this time of year. This year, I’m grateful to feel something; the feeling of the refreshingly cold air that almost seems to sting upon contact with the skin brings comfort to me. It’s definitely a change from the summer season, but there’s something peaceful about the cold air that can feel like it’ll never leave. It feels constant.
I’ve always loved warm weather for all its adventures, but winter is a necessary pause. Oftentimes — especially as a college student — it can feel like we’re constantly on autopilot, never getting a break from our routined lives. Even while taking on new academic challenges the winter’s stillness seems to remind me to breathe.
While it’s true that winter can be isolating, take the additional alone time as an opportunity to reflect on where you are in life right now. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living? Is there anything you’d like to change about it? There are a million more questions I could ask you, but the rest are for you to figure out on your own.
All of these questions came up in a conversation I had with my cousin on our way to Cornell Votes’ civic celebration as we made our way to Willard Straight Hall, amid the hail and snow-ridden air. In these pique winter moments, I’ve had the opportunity to bond with those around me — there’s this unspoken solidarity at these times, where you and the person you’re with find yourself laughing out of irony in regard to the frigid circumstances.
Take winter as a reminder to treat yourself to the much-needed but often neglected shopping sprees you crave ever so often. Use the season as an excuse to give in to those indulgent behaviors that you suppress at any other time of the year. Or perhaps, buy someone important in your life a gift as a reminder of their importance within your life. Exchange conversation with someone you haven’t caught up with in a long time — this is the beauty of the winter season. Make a list of childhood movies you watched during the holiday season and take yourself on a journey of nostalgia. Even better, listen to the holiday music that brings you back home — to the moments when you sat beside your parents in front of your home’s warm fireplace.
Make note of the paradoxical comfort felt throughout winter. Think back to spending extended periods of time exposed to below-freezing temperatures and entering a warmly heated building. If you still aren’t convinced that embracing the winter season is something possible for you, find excitement in the months going forward that move deeper into the cold — and soon enough, into the warmth.
Nothing beats New England’s four seasons and I’m grateful to have grown up in an area that has allowed me to experience the ups and downs of life alongside such changes. To always look forward to what now is, and what once was.
Cheers to: the first leaf bright orange leaf; the pillow-looking hills and divots of the ground; the bud of green that peeks its brittle branch; the tree whose leaves dance with movement.
Adam Senzon (he/him) is a freshman at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]. My Two Sen-ts runs every other Tuesday this semester.