It’s been a running joke ever since I came to Pomona — “Emily, you eat the same yogurt bowl every morning,” my friends say. And it’s true. Plain Greek yogurt, delightfully sweetened with a profuse amount of berries and granola, is, in my mind, a perfect meal.
It’s a satisfying breakfast packed with protein and fiber: Health-wise, it’s got it all. More importantly, however, this humble yogurt bowl is a poignant reminder for me to rest in the busyness of college life.
I’m someone who thrives off of productivity — I tend to try to fill up my entire day. If I’m not in class, I should be doing homework; if I’m not doing homework, I should be studying; if I’m not doing academic work of any kind, I should be involved in some activity. For so long, I’ve viewed each day as a challenge to see just how much I can get done. Going to bed exhausted is a sign of a good day for me. In contrast, if there’s a chunk of time when I’m not actively doing something, that’s a sign of missed potential.
This mindset is not healthy, I know. It also probably doesn’t help that I’m a naturally early riser whose internal alarm clock wakes me up around 6 a.m. every day. My productivity-hungry mind sees these early morning hours as an opportunity to get more work done, or, if I already finished everything on my to-do list, to make another one. You’re awake, so why not? I often think to myself.
As a result, before starting college, I knew that I would have to be extra mindful not to succumb to these workaholic tendencies and to intentionally make time to rest. Little did I know that I would find this precious time in the early mornings at Frank and Frary, two of Pomona’s dining halls.
On the first day of the semester, having already gotten up bright and early, I decided to get breakfast to kickstart my day. I walked to Frank as soon as it opened and made myself a simple yogurt bowl, methodically layering fruits and granola on top.
Moving from station to station was oddly therapeutic: first the blueberries, then the raspberries, then, to my surprise, they even had pineapple too. Add the granola and then walk away. On second thought, go back and add some more.
“I pressed “pause” on my ever-eager brain and just focused on the food in front of me, honoring this time between my yogurt bowl and myself.”—Emily Kim PO ’25
After carefully crafting the yogurt bowl to my satisfaction, I sat down at an empty table and started eating. With my first class of the day starting at 8:50 a.m., I was in no rush. The dining hall was quiet. The faint rustling of the few other early risers and the whirring of the coffee machines acted as peaceful background noises as I took my time eating slowly, bite by bite.
All possible distractions — mainly, my laptop and cell phone — stayed rightfully hidden away. As a result, breakfast almost felt like a sacred experience: I pressed “pause” on my ever-eager brain and just focused on the food in front of me, honoring this time between my yogurt bowl and myself.
Eventually it was time to leave for class, and the rest of my day was as busy as expected. When I came back to my dorm, my brain was brimming with course overviews, important deadlines and information from the first lectures. I could feel the wheels turning in my mind — organize this, take note of that, make sure to get this done by this day. But in addition to all of the glaring to-dos on my mental checklist, another humbly made its entrance — get another yogurt bowl tomorrow?
I did get another yogurt bowl the next day, and now, after a month of school, I’ve gotten a yogurt bowl nearly every day. This simple breakfast has become my way to start my day off right. It is something that I consistently look forward to; something that brings solace and gives me space to breathe before other responsibilities begin to cloud my mind.
Sometimes I eat alone and enjoy this time to myself; other times I eat with other early-riser friends and we enjoy the calm of the dining hall together. As an avid checklist user, I’m learning to add rest as another bullet point. I still have work to do to lessen my workaholic-ness (no pun intended), but setting aside intentional time for breakfast is surely a step in the right direction.
So if you, too, want to incorporate more rest into your daily routine — although it may seem counterintuitive — try waking up early one morning. Go to breakfast. Make yourself a yogurt bowl (more granola is better than not enough, trust me) and truly take your time to enjoy the whole process of creating and eating. You might surprise yourself; your body will feel nourished and your mind remarkably refreshed.
Emily Kim PO ’25 is from Irvine, California. She loves baggy sweaters, YouTube karaoke and banana bread.