People tried to explain to me I would have some extra time on my hands post graduating from college but I didn’t grasp this until it was in full swing. During the month of September, usually the time when my school year would begin and the grind wouldn’t stop until December break, I felt a weird shift. I was walking into school as an insider. I was a member of the staff lounge, and I wore business casual attire Monday through Friday. There were no homework, no tests, no quizzes, no projects of my own to worry about. Nothing eating away at my free time and suddenly my Sunday library days were over. At first, this overjoyed me. I was thrilled to come home after a long day and just have dinner and sleep on my agenda for the night. But slowly I became bored. This was the first time I was experiencing living a life not as a student, and I was confused with what to do with my free time. During my last year of college I was taking three classes, working 20 hours a week, playing club lacrosse, and oh let’s not forget trying to graduate. Free time was an illusion, something I knew existed but never fully basked in its glory.
This changed when I started my journey as a Lasallian Volunteer. My days changed from having a new schedule every day at college to having the same layout every day. Wake up at the same time, have prayer, go to work, come home, have prayer/dinner, go to bed. It was nice to have consistency but like I said boredom hit hard. My mind and body were not used to the stillness. With this boredom I began to question what kind of hobbies and activities I should start to explore to occupy my time. I knew I would have to choose things that would be fun and long term. I have always been an active person so diving into any physical activities would be the best fit for me.
One of the best activities I chose to do was join an adult kickball league with my fellow community members. To answer your question, yes, an adult kickball league is just as fun as it sounds. We had a game every Tuesday followed by drinks at a local bar that were provided by the organization. This not only occupied my nights with something fun and different but also gave me and my community members a way to be social and involved with the town of Albany. Soon Tuesday kickball games were something I had the chance to look forward to, and they were a great way to meet some pretty cool people. Our team was filled with social, fun, energetic people who welcomed us into Albany. It was nice to start to build a group of friends in a completely new place and have people to go out with on the weekends to explore.
Another way I occupied my free time was training for the LVs Run. During our summer orientation, Brother Charles Kitson Institute for Formation of Lasallian Volunteers, I was thrilled to find out we would be raising money for our program with a 5K run during the month of October. I took advantage of the fundraising and used it to fill up any free time I had. It was a fun way to stay connected with family and friends and an easy way of explaining what I was doing in Albany and with Lasallian Volunteers. It also gave me a long-term goal of running a 30-minute 5K. The first couple months I was in Albany I was able to come home after work and squeeze in a run before prayer/dinner. I loved having something active to look forward to after work and loved having a set goal of getting in shape. My hard work paid off, and I ran a 30-minute 5K during October in the Minneapolis race and raised money for our program!
For a person who grew up in California I have never truly experienced a cold dark winter. I vacationed in Lake Tahoe every once in a while and visited the snow and cold weather but living in it can be very different. I found I was mostly living inside during the months of December and January and not going outside nearly as much as I was in the beginning of the year. This was taking a toll on my mental and physical health. My kickball league was over, and I no longer could run outside (due to snow, ice or rain) meaning my forms of physical activity I had relied on were over. It was time to hunt for a new form of occupying my free time that was in my budget. I did my research and found a gym that was not only in my price range but had a variety of classes including spin, yoga, weight lifting, cardio training and many other options. I immediately started attending these classes four to five times a week and was surviving the winter a lot better. The gym was filled with friendly workers and other motivated active people. This became a great activity for my mental and physical health.
After going to school for 17 years it has been weird to no longer be a student and make an adjustment to a different kind of life. I am thankful to have the space of Albany, New York, to explore and my fellow community members to lean on.
AnnaMarie Carmazzi is a first-year volunteer at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, New York, serving as an academic support specialist. She is a 2019 graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California with a degree in psychology. She is also a 2015 graduate of Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, California.