Tis the season for crib sheets and caffeine! This has to be one the craziest times of the year – EXAMS!
Just like many university students, I am currently in the middle of my exam period. Fortunately, my exam schedule has allowed me to come home for a few days in between. This time at home has been a great break from the stress-filled, student coma I was in. With proper meals and sleep, this time at home has given me some much needed mental clarity.
University is hard and there is no denying that it is designed to push students academically, socially and physically. For many, the end goal is a degree. But what if you don’t make it out the other side? Nobody seems to talk about that.
As a particularly motivated individual, university nearly killed my ambition. Looking back at my first year of university, it was filled with so many challenges, both inside and outside the classroom. I remember sitting in my high school classes and hearing guest speakers talk about how my academic average will drop significantly in university. Me, being a naïve overachiever, of course thought that this would NEVER happen to me.
After all, I was used to getting higher grades and I didn’t see that changing anytime soon. I learnt VERY quickly in university, this was not the case. Classes were longer and mentally draining. Professors provided little guidance. The content was challenging. For the first time in my academic career, I felt unprepared and inadequate. Of course, my grades did drop significantly. But for me, the hardest part was not the grade drop itself, but the self-doubt that always followed. I felt defeated. Was I even smart enough to be here? What if I fail this class? Why am I not doing as well as other people in the course? I quickly entered a vortex of self-damaging negativity.
I was even more frustrated because my body didn’t even feel like it belonged to me anymore – I wasn’t sleeping, eating right, managing my time well and I didn’t know how to study. I remember feeling helpless and I just kept thinking, WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE?! We were often warned about a plummeting GPA, but I had no idea the additional obstacles that awaited me in the quiet corner of my dorm room.
Like anything, university was (and still is) a huge learning curve. Luckily, I reached out to some on-campus resources to help me cope. Even after receiving amazing support, I couldn’t help but feel like I had failed myself. It took me a LONG time to realize that asking for help did not mean that I didn’t deserve to be here. Asking for help didn’t mean that I was weak – it meant I was strong enough to recognize my own limits. Ever since then, I have noticed a huge change in my approach to university life. In general, I am a lot more aware of my needs. I know that I am not the only person to have felt like this and many students feel these pressures. What I don’t understand, is why we feel the need to not open up about these struggles.
Through writing this, I have learned that university culture glorifies self-induced suffering. University culture paints spending hours in the library, no sleep and horrible eating patterns as necessary factors for success. But it is important to remember- this is so UNNECESSARY. Why are we bragging about self-damaging habits?
Now, I am in no way saying that I have the perfect study routine or lifestyle – because trust me, I don’t. But one thing that I am continually learning is that it will never be necessary to harm yourself in the process of pursuing your education – and this is something that we all need to discuss more. No grade is worth that pain and it is SO important to take care of yourself in the process.
You don’t need to deprive yourself to be successful! SO, please remember this exam season, to take care of yourself first. Only you know what your body needs, it is important to listen to it!
You deserve the best, good luck with exams!