Breathe. Take a deep breath. That is what they tell you. But you can’t. You are choking. You are gasping for air. It feels like you are drowning but the liquid filling your lungs is the dark murkiness of fear. Anxiety bubbles up inside you. You can’t raise your head above the dread.
Think. Think positively. Think broadly and conceptually and creatively. But it doesn’t feel possible. You are numb. Thoughts are routine and mechanical, not your own but ruled by notes upon endless notes of regimented classes gone by. Your thoughts are clouded, foggy, restless. Exhaustion and worry seem to block the creativity from flowing out…or in…
Stuck. Numb. Anxious. Unmotivated.
Yet it feels good, because it means that you have it hard. And hard means that you are taking challenging classes. And challenging classes means that you are smart. And being smart leads to good grades. And good grades are followed by success.
So we allow ourselves to become consumed. We stay up late. We watch the clock. We complain about our schedule. We talk about how many hours we spent in the library and how many shots of espresso were in that afternoon coffee. Finals become a competition – who will stretch themselves to the breaking points yet not snap? Who will lose the most sleep and sanity, but gain the highest grade? We push and pull and strive. And slowly the competition consumes us.
Maybe. Hm. Maybe the battle is not against sleep and classes and exams and papers and the clock and our fellow students. Maybe our weapons are not caffeine and color-coded notes and a deep focus playlist. Maybe the battle is not against finals at all. Maybe the battle is against our human tendencies. Maybe our weapons are peace and joy and perspective and a good friend. Maybe the battle is to not be consumed.
Breathe. Breathe deeply. Suck in life. Let peace and purpose fill your lungs. Feel joy bubble up within you. Take advantage of these moments. They won’t last forever. Appreciate your friends. Take time to enjoy the coffee and the cookies and the dogs.
Think. Think positively. Process the fact that you get to learn. You are among the rare ones in this world who get to graduate with a degree. You get to walk around a campus filled with interesting and passionate students. You get to hide out in the library surrounded by your best friends.You get to study this fascinating and beautiful world around you.
Breathe deeply. Because this is life. And you are given the precious gift to live it.
*a short article, because it is finals.