The end of the semester is such a stressful time for us college students. With projects, papers and exams piling up in these last few days of the semester, it’s understable to feel overwhelmed. This time of year always reminds me of my first spring semester at Fairfield and some truths that I learned during a particularly tough finals season.
I am a risk taker; I have always loved the freedom that comes with charting your own path. Unfortunately, I am also a perfectionist and have dreaded the risk of failure that comes with boldly swimming into uncharted waters. While I can’t say I’ve loved every minute of being a politics major on the pre-med track, I can say that I have never regretted pursuing all of my interests.
In the spring semester of my first year I decided to take two politics classes at once to set me up to take just one politics class per semester until the end of my college career. I was in the midst of writing two final papers in classes where my midterm papers had not gone the way I would have wanted. Stressed out of my mind, while also trying to write a lab report about green crystals, I began to doubt my whole existence. How silly would it look to medical schools if I pursued a non-traditional major that I wasn’t any good at?
I thought to myself, a small 18 year old, “What if I took this big risk only to fail?”
I returned to Jogues 335 after a long night in the library, still working on these two politics papers and drowning in my own inadequacy, to find my roommate and her male friend chatting about how he was done for the semester. He had handed in his last projects, taken his single written final and had been celebrating with his friends. I walked in the room and he turned to me holding a bottle of Corona. He looked me right in the eyes and asked, “Hey, do you have a bottle opener?”
This question echoed around the tiny room and hit me right in the chest. He was free and I was not, he had survived and I had not, he had succeeded while I was on the verge of complete failure.
I walked out of the room, sat in that curved stairwell and cried. I called my sister and explained that I now had to become a spray paint boardwalk artist because I had been rejected by every medical school in the country for being a total idiot. She patiently listened as I also described how there was a boy in my room who had his whole life going for him and needed to borrow a bottle opener.
Here is some sage sisterly wisdom for finals season that I want to share with you:
- Everything can be fixed. There is no problem that doesn’t have, at the very least, a partial solution. It feels like your whole life is on the line but it simply is not. The sun will rise the next day, and you will be there to pick up the pieces of your life. You can rebuild even if it’s not the original blueprint. You can survive failure.
- You do the best that you can. I was in two politics classes, I had two papers due, I had no idea what I was doing; these were the facts of my life. You have to take the facts and do what you can to make it out to the other side. Finals season is only a week and a half even when it feels like a month.
- Ask for what you need. Text your roommate to get this emotionally distressing boy the heck out of your room. Turn off your phone for a few hours while you grind at the library. Tell your friends you need a break and want to meet up for ice cream. Listen to yourself and don’t be afraid to speak up on your own behalf.
I hope these tips can help mitigate some of the mental anguish you feel over the next few weeks. I hope with all of my heart that you are the kid with Corona rather than the girl sobbing in the stairwell.