You better cry and I will tell you why. While they were putting up the Christmas tree, you were catching up with the readings you still have not touched. While kids were starting to knock on your doors and sing Christmas carols, you were sitting across your screen and watching recorded class lectures. While everybody attended parties and gatherings, you attended your own funeral when caffeine finally starts being agonizing. Your shoulders seemed like falling and your soul looked as if it was wearing, are you... okay?
Ask me about rough and tough roads and I will tell you only one thing: the first semester of college. I could not believe that I still had a lot to figure out and that my thinking capacity could just not handle some stuff. What do you mean I had to distinguish if the news is good or bad just by reviewing the headline? I am just still grateful that despite a bunch of hiccups, I made it through. Email notifications started to haunt me that I now fear every ding that pops out of my phone, so do not ask me why I am on silent. I cannot even enjoy a meal without thinking about the group chats I still haven't responded to. If we think about it, there have been moments to still remember despite being fazed by the changing of seasons and our piled-up academic responsibilities.
I have no one else to point my fingers to but to the grueling academic stress that stole our hours of sleep. Lying in bed suddenly felt like a grave sin; it was as if I was lying in a dark pit where my academic responsibilities await for their opportunity to burst forth and steal my sanity.People readied for the holidays while we were still stuck in a loop --- get out of the bed, sit across the screen, be a nice student, take a quiz, move forward, review for another, and still a lot of stuff after and in between. Some invited their friends over coffee for a much awaited talk after months of not having to do so or maybe it's just for Starbucks stickers, while you continued to receive class invites and examination reminders. I know, tired is an understatement for what we felt.
Have you ever felt like you were hearing email notifications out of nowhere? Or maybe getting anxious about going out without your laptop? Well, if it's a yes then that sounds like a problem. We went from someone full of excitement and grit to someone who feels like being suffocated by papers. Maybe some get actually more driven to finish their tasks just by thinking about the approaching holiday season while, I am guessing, a larger part of it gets easily distracted because they just want to breathe and rest. Which population do you belong to? Is it just right to blame the cold breeze and Christmas carols for submitting a mediocre academic output?
Written works, recitations, and mind-stretching examinations. For months, we suffered from all these and that's the biggest secret of a college student. We have been burning from the fires of a series of hell weeks of the past semester. We could constantly hear our chest pounding and our stomachs turning upside down and we just sat here silently. Anything and everything just to pass all of our requirements not only for academic validation but also for our inspirations. Although the normalization of putting your academics first before your well-being should not be romanticized for it is a probable issue that students face.
Maybe I should step back and take time to appreciate what I am up against: the anxiety of hearing and seeing academic-related notifications; the prioritization of having good grades; the distraction that the holiday season brings; and the romanticization of sacrificing your health for good scores. All of these are a patchwork of academic validation, fear of disappointment, and the dire need of high grades. I sighed with a heaving chest and stared blankly at my screen as I looked back on all the gatherings I missed and all the meals that I had to skip. It felt awful; it was as if I was hit by a wrecking ball or got ripped into half by a massive chainsaw. Will all these be worth it?
You better cry and I will tell you why. While they were putting up the Christmas tree, you struggled to choose from your list on what to read and study first. While kids knocked on your doors, and sang Christmas songs, you watched recorded lectures for the nth time so you could ace your exams. While everybody attended parties and gatherings around you, you sipped from your fourth cup of coffee so you could stay up to finish your school work. This holiday season, give yourself a pat on the back. May you forgive yourself for choosing to finish a task over enjoying the season, for not going to that trip because of an exam, for canceling your plans to study for a quiz, and for all the instances that you chose academics over yourself.
The holiday season is not just a season of giving, it is also a season for forgiving and breathing. May you forgive yourself for choosing to finish that task instead of enjoying a meal, for not going to that trip because of an exam, and for all the instances that you chose being a diligent student over your well being.
Breathe and enjoy that fruit salad on the dining table.