In college lingo we like to call the time before finals and finals week “hell week.” Hell week is comprised of nights spent in the library until 3 am, staring at a computer for hours on end, with less sleep and food than normal. It is the time where we must prove we have retained some of the information we have been lectured on for the past 15 weeks in the 18 hours of classes we are taking all at once. All this to say, if you see a college student in the next couple of weeks, let them be. Maybe buy them a coffee, hold the door open for them, or just give them a pat on the back for all the work they are doing.
I know majority of you have been through this process before and start with the “when I was in school” business, just know we have been through hell with going from online school the past year and a half to in person, missing lectures due to COVID and teaching ourselves, limited access to peers and professors, and trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives on top of it. I know finals week is always hard, but these past few years have been especially challenging to be a college student.
So yes, we are tired. We are not only tired, but also stressed. Imagine the biggest presentation you have to give of the year in order to secure that one account, got it? Okay, that’s what we have to do, but for 4 to 5 classes, at the same time. If the mental health crisis wasn’t bad enough, add 5 papers, projects, and exams worth 30% of your grade on top of it.
The question that should then be asked, how do we fix this exhaustion and stress? Well we can’t just fix it, that’s like saying you want to just fix one of the biggest social justice issues. It’s not like changing a light bulb, it takes time and commitment. Universities suggest we do yoga, play with puppies, drink the free coffee they offer us that is only furthering our caffeine addictions, and make a schedule for our study plans. While yes, these can be beneficial, there is also the problem of time. We would love to take a break and play with puppies, but in a majority of our minds, we have to earn that break. Sometimes a break for me looks like letting myself take a walk to the kitchen to fill up my water bottle. Now, before anyone says how unhealthy that is, I have already acknowledged that fact. But this isn’t something that is uncommon for college kids to do.
There is this internal divide within me, as I don’t want to speak for everyone. But there is a constant debate between getting all my work done and spending time with my friends who I am about to leave for a month. How do we balance it? Some people go study with their friends, killing two birds with one stone, I get way to distracted for that, but it works for some. Some people will allocate time to spend with their friends/roommates once they are finished with a specific amount of work. Whatever your combo of choice may be, there is a constant feeling of stress and anxiety when we are not looking at our screens getting things accomplished.
For example, this weekend, I felt so anxious from the moment I woke up. It felt like my fight or flight had kicked in the moment my eyes opened, which is a scary feeling. Knowing my anxiety was already at a high, adding caffeine to that equation was obviously not going to be the best idea. However, I knew if I wanted to get anything accomplished, I needed coffee, so I headed to the nearest coffee shop, grabbed a caramel latte and began my day. It is crazy how our brains work, isn’t it? I know I didn’t need the caffeine in order to be productive, but I somehow convinced myself it was the only way for me to get things done. Again, I acknowledge the fact I have a little bit of a caffeine addiction, no need to worry.
“Hell week” is kicking my booty at the moment. I haven’t gone to sleep before 1 am this week and I am feeling the repercussions of that. I am so stressed about getting everything accomplished in my semi-thought out timetable for finals so I can enjoy my final days of study abroad. That internal battle is having a hay day right now, do I go to the cathedral with my friends or do I write that paper because I’ve already seen like 4 cathedrals this semester? As my days dwindle down here, I want to do everything I have left on my list, but I also have to remember I am here for my education first, so that will be my first priority.
So, to the girl who is tired, rest please. Take a moment to look away from your computer screen. Take a walk, grab a smoothie and just enjoy the sounds around you. I know you feel like you have to push yourself to get all A’s, to be the best, to get the 4.0 and prove yourself to the people around you. Ambition is great but burning out before you even get your degree up on your wall is not. I’m taking a page out of my own book this hell week; I’m going to intentionally rest. That may look different for you than how it does for me, but I hope you will take a page out of my book as well, you don’t need to earn rest, you deserve it.
Happy finals season!