Welcome to finals season! I know, I know- you’re exhausted, you’re stressed, you’re burned out, you’re hungry but you don’t have even ten minutes eat (spoiler: you do), you haven’t seen the sun in four days, and you look and feel like a zombie.
Well, all I have to say is get over yourself.
Yep, go ahead and read that again.
Are you good and mad at me? Perfect.
And I lied, I do have more to say. Let’s get into it, shall we?
This is a post about final exam season and, as I do every semester in one form or another, I’m about to air everything that you, as a finals-induced zombie, are doing wrong.
If you don’t sleep, you’re doing finals wrong.
If you don’t eat, you’re doing finals wrong.
If you never leave the library, you’re doing finals wrong.
If you don’t shower, you’re doing finals wrong.
If you don’t get dressed (even if you aren’t leaving the house), you’re doing finals wrong.
If you cut off your friends, if you never make time for the people who are important to you, you’re doing finals wrong.
If you don’t take time for you, you’re doing finals wrong.
This isn’t some contest to see who can suffer the most. There’s no gold star for who can stay awake the longest, no trophy for who can order the most pizzas to the study room, no medal for who becomes the most zombified of us all.
So many students like to make a huge, dramatic production over their life during finals week. “I’m dying,” they say. “It’s fine, everything’s fine,” they claim with that tone of desperation in their voice (read more on that here). There are countless “relatable” jokes and articles about college students during final exam season. Honestly though, they need to calm down. You need to be calm.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely had my fair share of “this one exam is going to make it or break it for me, if I fail this my life is over.” I’ve crafted backup plan after backup plan in case of defeat (my current plan B is to move to Wisconsin and become a goat farmer if you’re interested).
But despite the stress of these insanely-weighted exams, despite the “all or nothing” mentality many professors drill into your head, and despite the hundreds of pages of material that you “have to know” by tomorrow, you should never, ever lose sight of yourself because of a test.
These exams do not define you.
They don’t deserve to take over your life, even for a day. They aren’t worthy of being your number one priority – your health is far, far more important. If you don’t put your health first, what do you have? You aren’t going to perform well on the test you’ve been obsessing over, I can promise you that. Most students claim to know everything I’ve already stated, but yet they still ignore it. What are you doing?? Do you enjoy suffering for no reason??
Finals is actually my favorite time of the semester. I can make my own schedule, I can adventure, and I can do what I need to do when I want to do it (for the most part). It’s freeing and it’s a perfect transition period between the semester and the semester break. Yes, there’s a lot to study and a lot to do, but if you know how to schedule your time effectively, it’s really not that bad. I still have dinner with friends. I still spend an hour on Facetime with my family at home. I still watch Netflix and run and blog and cook actual food and explore new parts of the city.
I do all of that and I still do fine on my exams.
I see so many of my peers struggling because they still feel that the only way for them to be successful is to spend the entire day staring at a textbook, sitting behind a little desk-cube, and telling themselves that they just have to survive this week and then they’ll be fine.
But they could be fine right now. That kind of self-bartering, the kind where you promise yourself you’ll be okay if you just somehow make it through this one rough patch, is actually really harmful. You’re convincing your head that you have to drive yourself into the ground now in order to enjoy life later. You’re pushing off happiness. You do not have to do that! You can enjoy life now and later! Joy isn’t conditional, you just have to choose it.
It’s possible to survive finals season with your sanity in tact. It’s only rare because the majority of students have been convinced that the only way to get good grades, show how hard they’re working, and prove they deserve to be where they are is by becoming the stereotypical college zombie.
Don’t let that be you.
You deserve more than that.
~How are you staying healthy during finals?