Cold winds, rising air pollution, and an endless flow of last-minute assignments are all indicative of the same thing. The end of a semester, which inevitably brings the notoriously flawed product of our shoddy education system – the dreaded final examinations. In a capitalist society where your character and worth are judged through the lenses of academic success, it’s hardly surprising how tense these times are for every student regardless of their field. The additional uncertainties under the shadows of a pandemic and online examinations are serving only to add to the mounting pressure and stress of the season.
Although times like these do call for long hours of grueling study and some sleepless nights, moments of zen can still find some place even amidst an overflowing schedule if one tries. Acknowledging the anxiety and stress you feel during these times is actually a very important step we forget in our almost robotic existence where all we do is eat, sleep, study, repeat, leaving no space for anything else. This becomes a sort of coping mechanism to drown out our physical and emotional needs, which is often so exhausting that truth be told, it greatly lowers productivity.
On top of that, with the harshness of the season, we often forget to be kind to ourselves. Life is already a sorry bag of steaming garbage (or is that just me?), why make it worse by constantly berating yourself over missed deadlines and unproductive days. I am sure our parents can fulfill that quota with ease. At the end of the day, the one person we will come home to every day till we die is ourselves. Quite frankly, it doesn’t really bode well to demean our one constant in an ever-changing existence.
It does seem like sleepless nights and exam season go better together than bread and butter. In fact, glazed over eyes and a dead expression are more symptomatic of a sleep-deprived and exam burdened student than a serial killer. Yet, more and more studies along with a host of ‘too smug for their own good’ teachers advise against it. Studying all night actually damages your ability to learn and focus. The romance of coffees and all-nighters, much like the results you get afterward, are crushing disappointments. Catching those z’s though might get you closer to that coveted 10th rank in your class of 20.
However, if you’re a massive procrastinator like me, sleep can seem much like a distant fantasy and dark circles a very harsh reality. In cases like this, short breaks with music, food, and a few phone calls will definitely help, but what will get you really far is perspective. We are floating in a giant rock in the middle of nowhere and spinning at speeds too fast for my mathematically challenged brain to even comprehend. We are a speck of light in an infinite universe and infinite realities. Though this does sound vaguely like a Facebook quote from 2010, it does cause one to wonder how much, or to be more precise how less, all this matters.
Sure, it does affect our immediate futures and there is nothing wrong with desiring good grades but in a world so diverse and dynamic, it’s okay to not be able to perform in exams. In fact, some people consistently do badly and it has nothing to do with their caliber, only to do with the defective system of exams. The ability to memorize and reproduce words in a given time limit can barely be used as a measure for intelligence. Academic ability is not akin to anyone’s worth. This narrative is so harmful in our competitive society and not getting trapped in it is imperative.
In essence, it is crucial to take care of ourselves during times of such pressure and exertion. Mental health should always come first, even before academics. None of us I’m sure can wait till the year ends and we emerge from a cave of dusty books and leaking pen ink. Till then though, be there for yourself and remember, your marks, whether physical, mental, or on a piece of paper with red ink, do not define you and never will.
All the best for the exams, may the odds be ever in your favor!