It is officially that time in the semester when it’s normal to see people crying into their Starbucks cups in the library. We’re out of money, we didn’t go to sleep last night, we used a plastic knife to eat peanut butter out of the jar for breakfast, and we haven’t started a paper that’s due at midnight.
Finals are upon us, and we’re losing our minds.
I think everyone who’s stepped foot into a college class can relate to the feeling of regret that comes like clockwork with the end of each semester. If only I’d kept up with work this semester! Why didn’t I do all of the extra credit? I watched too much Netflix and studied too little!
Cue the attempts to learn a semester’s worth of chemistry in three days.
Friends, can I just say that we were not created to live like this? Can I ask that we all take a minute to breathe, to sleep, to eat, to smile at a stranger, to call our grandmas, to consider what matters here?
Before the protests, and cries that I don’t get it, I need to say that I love education. I love learning, and it is for this reason that as soon as I feel the stress of an exam or a paper begin to weigh upon my mind, I stop whatever I’m doing and take a break. My friends laugh at me because I’m notorious for napping when I should be studying, or going for a run when I have a paper due in a few hours. If you’re reading this and you are currently in college, it’s possible that you hate me right now because, in all honesty, who isn’t annoyed by the one person who isn’t stressed during finals? But the truth is that the things I am learning are too important to me for me to allow them to cause me stress. I want the content of my classes to expand my horizons, enlighten me to new ideas, and to make me an overall well rounded human. This simply can’t happen if I’m stressed.
I haven’t always been like this, but at some point during my freshman year, I remember thinking that I was certainly going to fail chemistry. As an honor student who made mostly A’s in high school, that was not an option. I ended up not failing. I got a 70 flat, so everything was mostly okay, but what I learned from that little scare shaped the way I would view the rest of my college career. When I was faced with the possibility of academic failure, I found myself slipping into depression. My self worth plummeted, and every area of my life was affected. It was then that I realized my value relied too heavily upon my GPA, and I therefore was unable to enjoy my education for it’s rawest purpose- to learn as much about the world around me as possible. When I began to shift the way I viewed education, I began to enjoy it a lot more. The numbers and letters that represent my grades are now just a representation of how much material I have learned, and they say nothing about who I am as a person, or how important or valuable I am.
I write these things not to condemn those who fit my earlier description of a stressed out college student, but to say something that they might not have been told before.
You don’t have to kill yourself with academic stress to be a hard worker. You’re not wasting time if you’re resting. Don’t believe the lies of internet people who romanticize stress and overexertion.
I think it’s likely that we who are prone to stress will always be able to find something to worry about, and that’s why I want us to learn today that we are worthy of a day off. And an ice cream cone.