| Niels ter Meer

Student columnist Niels ter Meer is Dutch, so he has a deep love for his bread. But he has also been a little bit toast the last couple of days. Hence, you get a column about toast.


Toast is nice. A pair of tasteful slices of bread, with for example some cheese and ham sandwiched between them, with optionally some nice condiment to dip them in to. Toast is life. But this is not the toast we’re going to talk about. That is the other toast; the state of being. The state of being completely exhausted, your brain having turned into bread — I mean mush — and just running on autopilot.

Some of you may remember toast’s cousin, ‘inspirationlessness’. But it is not that you don’t have any idea of what you would want to do — on the contrary. This time it’s not the ideas that are lacking: I could have written about smoking (my god when will they do something, the smoke free campus is all but smoke free), internationalisation (I don’t know what they were smoking — probably all that smoke — but at least they were wearing some very rose coloured glasses), or any of my other hobby horses — but there was just no brainpower that could put those incoherent ideas coherently onto your screen.

It’s not only this writing that is suffering. As a master’s student, I’m ‘blessed’ with a pile of reports that I have to write (I guess better than exams) which refuses to shrink. But the same problem applies here; I don’t want to ‘bless’ my lecturers with that same incoherency. I’ve been misreading equations which are normally pieces of cake — best not to do anything grade-critical now.

Depending on the circumstances, being toast might not be too bad. I’d imagine that a lot of people are toast after the Batavierenrace. Being toast then is fine — if all you have is an empty weekend. But that’s not always the case; some lecturers like to put deadlines in weekends or vacations. Nor does the toastyness have to come from something you planned; it could have been sickness, stress, sleep deprivation, or all of the above. Maybe it’s time to freeride a little?

But the thing is, being toast is your body signalling that it has been overstressed by something. While a paperclip breaks if you bend it too often, your body can recover given enough space and time to actually be toast for a bit.

Which maybe points to the problem. We live in a society (insert meme here) that values productivity and busyness — which applies especially to our academic subculture at times. Even if it is pressed onto you that it is okay to take some rest, or you’ve managed to obtain an extension to that deadline, you still feel that gnawing undercurrent of disapproval.

But you, me, we shouldn’t go along with that flow. I know it’s hard, but our health should have priority over whatever arbitrary deadline or performance figure we’re expected to meet. Go be a couch potato, complain to a friend, write a fever column (or is that just me?) — and maybe have some nice toast while you’re toast.

Stay tuned

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