Finals Season is a crazy time

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Finals.

The worst concept ever created. Death is a more welcoming idea. Whoever thought that it would be a good idea to test students on every single class they’ve had in a matter of a week and have each of those tests be worth anywhere from 20% to 50% of your overall grade should get prize.

Like the complete opposite of a Nobel Peace Prize. A Hitler War Prize maybe.

Finals week is where the men are separated from the boys and it turns out everyone are boys. It really makes you put into perspective what important in your life. If you’ve been through it you’d understand and everyone should go through at least one finals week in their life because you can really find what your purpose is.

Just imagine this. You’re 2 finals in. They’ve weathered your confidence. Studying for Saturday’s two tests is looming over your head. Your eyes ache, your head hurts, and you have not moved from your spot in the library for hours.

What would you rather be doing instead? You start bargaining in your head. “If I study later tonight I can game for about an hour” or maybe “If I just study all night tomorrow, I’ll be able to write that novel I’ve been picking at for the past couple of weeks”

Whatever you’d rather be doing is the real you. You find out what you miss most and it can get pretty mundane. At one point, laundry became an escape from finals for me. I hate doing laundry.

Everyone is a little stressed about finals, but some either have such good grades that one C won’t hurt them while others need a 102 to pass the one last class they need to graduate. Semesters are defined in about a week. I remember freshman year I had A’s and A-‘s across the board. I was content. I was cocky. Why study for finals when I could watch some old cartoons I watched as a kid? I knew what happened in the episodes, but they’re still cool to watch. My good grades so far must mean that I already know everything that I need to know for the finals. I never stood a chance. My naivety was my downfall. That and my fascination with superhero cartoons.

I won’t give out any exact numbers, but it got ugly quick. Like 2017 politics ugly.

I vowed to never let that happen again. The pointless slaughter of my freshman GPA would not be in vain.

I started prepping. My notes marked dates and what the finals would cover. I’d figure out all my finals dates and when I should start studying for each weeks before finals reared its horrible mug. I can’t say that finals for me are easy in anyway, but I sure feel better during the week.

I got time to workout and write (with the occasional cartoon thrown in there). I mean sure I could study more to get that 89 on the final to a 90, but as long as my grades didn’t completely falter I’m content.

Other people I know don’t even bother preparing and it works fine for them. The stress finals puts them into some next level state where their sole purpose in life becomes to absorb information and then spout it out at given times during the test. It’s quite a sight. I’d ask them why they did that to themselves. Why hurt yourself for an entire week? It was the only way they knew and it got the job done. I feel like far too many people hold this philosophy and I respect that.

Some people don’t crack under pressure.

Finals affects everyone differently. At some base level everyone is stressed. I feel like I can relate better with other students because I know they’re feeling something similar to me. However, I don’t handle stress well. You can tell from a distance when I’m stressed; I dress worse, my hair is messy because I play with my hair when I’m unnerved, and above all else I’ll get a forehead full of bright red pimples. Don’t let the appearance full you, I’m used to the stress. I am always some level of stress about something and it is a habit I’m trying to fight off. I’m more focused when I’m stressed, hence why my high school baseball coach referred to me solely as “Mr. Clutch”. I stepped up when it mattered, but man do I feel horrible the whole time doing it.

I try to keep to my routine during finals. Try to eat as healthy as always (with obvious failure), workout everyday, and sleep in a regular cycle.

Some people show no signs of change. A girl I know still dresses like its just another day, her makeup is on like nothing is new, and her demeanor is just as happy as if she was at Disney World. It’s sickening. However, when we sat down to study, she broke down mentally. “I am so screwed, I don’t know anything. I should just drop out”. Fucking hell. Finals got to her too.

Finals induces stress which is dealt with in a variety of ways or not at all. It pushes you mentally and that can leave your body in a way worse off space.

One of my friends from back home always posts stories about him working until 4 AM and then starting his day again at 7 AM. It’s both a shame and a marvel to watch. The kid always tries his best, but putting shit up can add up quick. If I had to choose one piece of advice I could tell myself about finals when I was younger it would either be get as much sleep as you usual do (granted that isn’t much), plan waaaaaaaay ahead for finals, or maintain a routine so your body doesn’t go into shock from the sudden 3 all-nighters in a row.

My high school teacher would tell us while studying for the AP exams, “The hay will already be in the barn the day of the test”. You either know it or you don’t. At some point forcing anything else is only counterproductive.

Or at least I think that’s what that meant. Whatever, I should be studying right now anyways.

Dealing with Stress in College

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Everyone gets stressed. Or at least every human gets stressed. It’s a good feeling to have, but not exactly a good one to feel. It reminds you what you have to do and the significance of doing it right. Stress is good until it screws up what you’re trying to do.

However, that was more for our ancestors, keeping us alert when we thought predators were nearby. It’s a bit harder to focus on a test when you can barely breath properly. You can sneak by without dealing directly with stress pretty easily in high school. The workloads can be brutal, but at the end of the day classes aren’t designed to potentially give you a 40 (except for my honors chemistry class, I hated that class)

College is the perfect storm of stress though. The difficulty jumps up to a whole new level and its entirely up to you on how to approach the problem. Do you not go to your 8 AM classes so your not as tired? Or do you skip your night class so you can go to bed at a reasonable hour? And that’s just classes. Imagine a part time job, relationships, sanity, all that can really add up.

Stress is as common as the common cold on a campus. Most people just kinda ride the waves, only really freaking out when Finals come and other major tests. Is there a cure doc? Meh, depends on who you are.

I know a girl who would just bounce a volleyball on a wall for a couple minutes and completely simmer down. As her neighbor I could hear every single instance and would shoot out a quick, “What’s wrong?” text until it stopped. I tried something similar in retaliation with a football, but it worked me up more than anything. At one point I was pretty sure the wall was going to give in before my stress. Sometimes all you really need is that small activity once in a while to set things straight. If there is a basketball near me, I’ll throw it up in the air and catch it. Nothing revolutionary, just a nice feeling.

Some find that one athletic activity that gets their mind off things. Weightlifting makes you feel more powerful and in control. Nothing feels better than letting out all your frustration on a barbell stacked with weight. If you can move it, then you can do anything. Running and other cardio workouts can give you the time to either work out what you’re going through or give you that clear head you need to resolve what you need to. Sports as a whole can encompass either of the above and usually include that added social element. Even during finals, my roommates and I would find the time to play basketball. Trash-talk is a great release is all I’m saying and plenty social.

Being social is something I’ve never been good at, but socializing can be that exact mental break one needs. Being around other people you enjoy being around, especially those who are more positive can really alter your perspective on things. Whether it be talking about what is stressing you out or shooting the shit with your buddies can do wonders. Sometimes stress reaches the point where it consumes you and all that is needed is a step-back. People (and animals) are pretty good at helping others out in their time of need.

A more unusual approach I came across in college is meditation. Now I’m not saying you need to give up on all earthly possessions and shave your head. All it really is is taking 10-15 minutes where you sit in silence, taking deep breaths, and not think about anything. It gives your head a little break from a day full of stimulation and constant nagging. It is not an end all cure and it won’t make you some sort of enlightened person, but a little “mind time” never hurt.

Not all stress releases are good though. Some people have a release that works once for them and it becomes their crutch. In the long run they may hurt more than the stress being dealt with.

A vast majority of kids drink and smoke until they don’t remember why they were even worried in the first place. There are plenty of reasons why this is not the best approach, but sometimes the biggest hindrance is stress itself. My friend’s best papers were written while he was not sober. He’d stress over his diction and grammar when he wasn’t smoking, but once he was in the right state of mind, he’d just let his ideas flow out. It reached the point where he required to be high to do homework. God forbid he ran out of weed, the kid would come to a complete halt academically and it was pretty pathetic. Alcohol and drugs are okay if its a one and done kind of arrangement, but reaching the point where they become a necessity is never a good sign.

Others just live with it. Every second is stressful, yet what’s the harm? Yesterday I was stressed so what does it matter if it continues? Riding out stress is a brutal habit I had early in high school. Why deal with the stress if I was gonna get stressed the very next day. I rode the wave of stress and did not do shit to stop it. I’m not going to say it was the worst option, it did get me through some rough patches, but man did it suck. Life was just a blur at the time and the only constant in my life seemed to be the stress. It’s not a part of my life I look back at fondly.

There are definitely other ways to deal with stress out there. I’m sure I’m forgetting a good chunk of methods. Feel free to share your own and who knows maybe I’ll pick it up too. Stress sucks, but it’s not an impossible solution. We’re only human.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

Growing up, I was decent at school. I had above average grades, but I mucked about like any of my friends. From a distance it would be difficult to understand why I was so much better with my grades compared to my “under-performing” peers. Do I think I was smarter than them? No, not really. After all, I once tried breaking up a random fight I had not dog in. I’m probably on the dumber side of the population if anything.

What I did do well was plan. I was extremely rigid about it as well. If I missed even 5 minutes of studying, I’d remove my break time and study more. Punctuality was a consequence of my planning, nothing more. Every semester I’d plan my day down to 15 minutes and barely enough flexibility to keep me sane. Whenever I got a new class or job, I’d throw out my old schedule and make something completely different. Deviation from the schedule was intolerable, but there were instances of me doing so without my consent. However, I did everything in my power to avoid such horrible tragedies. One of my most embarrassing secrets is that I did a fairly good job of studying other people’s tendencies and schedules and factored that into my own. “No I can’t go get food at 6 because I’ll see Tom on the way and I’ll have to listen to him for hours”. In a perfect world, everything would have been like I was one of those super villains watching the hero beat up their thugs and saying, “It’s all going according to plan”.

Now the most obvious reason for why I planned so much was because of my household, but that was not the case in the slightest. My parents were not helicopter parents, they never asked about them. They were always impressed when they’d see my grades at the end of the year and how I managed to do anything else in the meantime. Deep-down the planning obsession was all mine. It was not healthy.

Why did I start or care about schedules so much? I can’t be certain, but it’s probably the control. Life is a bunch of random event occurring one after another. Each day has new problems along with older ones that still linger. Planning gave me that cathartic release from the stress of my life. Frankly there was not that much happening in my life at any one given moment, but that single ounce of stress made me want a life completely filled with.

The schedule became worse than the stress than the stress being mitigated. Missing one study period to hang out with friends sent me into a frenzy all-nighter to recover. I was always checking my phone to make sure I did not miss my 5 PM break-time. Yup, I reached the point where missing my time intended for relaxing was stressing me out. Don’t get me wrong, I stuck to the schedule probably around 90% of the time. However, I forgot to factor in two things.

First I’m human. Sometimes it would take me 32 minutes to learn something even though I only allocated 30 minutes. Spotting a random guy at the gym added 5 minutes to my workout time and I cursed him out the entire drive back in my car. Also, always doing the same things at certain times really grinds you down eventually. No one likes being in a rut, but the schedule made the rut. How could I plan to not be in a rut, when planning was what threw me in it to begin with? The mind needs to be stimulated and after a while it’ll figure out your everyday patterns.

The second was that life has too many variations. How could I possibly know that my grandparents were moving in the summer and therefore need me to help move their stuff instead of working more hours at my summer job? How could I have known that the girl living in the dorm suite next to me was going to have an emotional collapse and need at least 3 people to help her through it? The schedule did not always have the answers. It could account for the mundane stuff, but outliers completely screwed it up.

Schedules are good in determining what you know you need to get done and figuring out how much time you have to do it. However, they shouldn’t become your personal Bible. I still make schedules, but now I place much more flexible hours to allow for unexpected events. If I miss some time for studying, well I guess I’ll just have to study harder later.

Maybe I shouldn’t be having these thoughts right before finals though…

Exceptionalism

Exceptionalism is something everyone tries to attain. What this exceptional attribute may differ from person to person,but that desire for mastery and becoming the top in one’s field is across the board. No child wants to be a bench warmer in the pros. No writer wants to just write in a blog once in a while.

It is a predisposition for us to want to be the very best. Our hopes and dreams put us on the top of humanity, being adored for the rest of your life and being etched into humanity’s records for all future generations to revere you. There is a desire to be something far larger than one is.

For almost 100% of the population that is simply not possible for them to attain. If everyone was exceptional then no one would be. For there to be Bill Gates, there were thousands of people who invested in coding,but could never get it right or simply were not lucky to be exposed with their findings.

For every Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth had countless failures, but only some people persisted. Is it blind optimism? Possibly.

Am I talking out my ass? Certainly, but hey I like writing about whatever.

We want all the benefits of benefits from being the best, but man the process sucks. Its almost impossible to find cases of people succeeding at the first chance they get. Sure some are more predisposed to excelling at certain things. If I ever become a seven foot tall behemoth you’ll definitely see me on the court some day. I have a friend who is 6 foot four and he is bombarded with questions about trying to go pro. Too bad he’s the most uncoordinated person the world has ever decided to spawn. Even with these advantages there’s still no guarantee of success. Yet even then there are still other people fighting with you to get to that same goal. Fighting to be a famous writer is a bloodbath while being the number one chainsaw juggler is a bit less broad in scope (not to say it isn’t impressive).

How much of this are we in control of? People love the underdog story and of the self-made man (or woman), but how attainable is it? It happens for sure, but how much is circumstance and genetics and what is the hard work portion. If you’ve seen any of those gym site its always showing these fit models sweating their asses off. They’re not showing the scrawny version that they were for the majority of the time. The gym is more packed in January than Time Square is during New Year’s Eve, ” This is the year I lose the baby fat and pick up that chick on the treadmill with the firmest ass I’ve ever stared at for too long”. The difference is that that girl has been going for 4 years and has been ogled her entire gym career. She’s been running on that same damn treadmill everyday at the same time after eating the same meals for before you knew what leg day was.

I always felt I was one who would strive for goodness, but not greatness. I was an A- student. I went to the gym fairly regularly and ate healthy 4 outta the 7 days of the week. Motivation was a fleeting concept with the occasional appearance in my life. There was a general feeling to be decent at everything I did. That was it though. I never felt like I had to be number one in anything growing up. The top was good, but the very top was too much work.

Was I born to be meh or was it a lifestyle choice? I hold the (rather optimistic) belief that enough effort can alter your life. There is a level though that can’t be attained without some help.

You see the type of person I’m talking about everywhere. They give all they got in everything they do and it shows. Did the effort cause the exceptionalism or did the exceptionalism spawn even more effort to be called upon?

I’m not sure anymore man, my head hurts from thinking about this too much. My fault for trying.

How to Make a Life Changing Decision

Changes in your life can make or break you as a person. Making the right choice on a decision can lead to you hanging at the chillest restaurants and wearing the freshest clothes. Making the wrong choice and oh man. You’re stuck spending the rest of your life thinking “What if?”. The answer to that question may not be the best to think about. Beating yourself up about it won’t help you at all and eventually you’ll have to face Everyone will have at least two or three of these in their lives.

Should I ask her out?

Should I really move across the country for this job?

Should I post my naked ass on the internet?

There are no definite answers for questions like these (except the last one, trust me). I’m sure you’ve spent hours weighing pros and cons. It’s always good to do this, just to see exactly where your fears and aspirations lies with the decision. Some might seem a bit far-fetched,

“If I move to the desert, I’m at an increased likelihood of being struck by a meteor, but at the same time vending machine accident probability goes way down”

That is the kind of thought that keeps me up at night…

Not only will there be an immediate impact when you make that decision, there will be residual outcomes and unspecified side effects. The world will keep spinning even after you make your decision, unless that decision was stopping the Earth from spinning. That back tattoo of a butterfly will infuriate your parents and they’ll cut off your $1000 allowance. Joining an underground fight club will lead to you blowing up a bunch of credit card companies’ buildings. You know typical x causes y, but then z,q,r,and p too. Once the decision is made understand that there will be an afterwards.

There is a lot of emotion that goes along with making a decision like moving across the country. Your parents will miss you and you’ll miss the free rent. You shouldn’t just move because you’re angry at your parents and its all a part of your parents’ punishment. You need to be as objective as possible. You might change you’re mind when you see how much it costs to even live in a cardboard box in Los Angeles. Spend a day relaxing and free of others before making a decision and before the days comes when you make the final decision repeat and see if there were any doubts during that window of time.

The final piece to making the decision is acceptance of your decision. No matter what your decision is there will be positives and negatives. Different people in your life will disagree with either decision and its up to you to accept the decision you’ve made. Be proud of the decision you’ve made, knowing that you did whatever you had to to make the best of your situation. I guarantee it won’t be a perfect life afterwards, yet its almost comforting in a sense that both decisions have their own flaws to them. If you’re lucky enough to still have the chance to go back on your decision later, just be ready to go through the same process above to undo it, BUT ONLY IF YOU KNOW WITH 100 PERCENT CERTAINTY THAT ONE CHOICE HAD MORE NEGATIVES.

You’re molded by your decisions and its from this mold that the current you is made. That current you will also be in charge of future decisions so do what you can to make the decisions as easy as possible. Everyone will have a difficult decision in their life at one point or another, so make sure you can help others when they go through something similiar.