We’re always hearing about relationships fall apart during the gloom of the winter season, or right after Valentine’s Day. But, if you’re anything like me, you press on through those miserable months and reserve your breakups for the last two weeks of the semester – finals. It’s probably the most hectic and stressful time of the year for me, overpowering any winter blues pain I may feel during the months of frigid breezes, minimal snow to uphold the natural aesthetics and, of course, an excess of grimy sludge in the gutter and under your car. It’s been something of an inevitable for the past three years. Regardless of how things had been going prior to the infamous study period from hell, I would end things. It just became too much. But I’ve since learned how to balance my life, manage my stress and maintain my relationships through the most difficult times of the year (thank goodness).
I used to put too much pressure on myself to get perfect scores and grades, giving everything more than my best effort and compromising everything else in my life to make it happen. But I’ve learned that it is possible for me to be successful academically and also take care of myself. Ground-breaking, I know. But it really did take some time to figure out that balance was maintainable, even during more rigorous academic periods. Sure, some things would be set on the backburner, but that didn’t mean I’d have to ditch them all-together, especially when it came to the person I was dating.
And then I thought to myself, “If I can’t survive two weeks of personal hell with someone, I’m going to be in real trouble down the road.” Seriously, if someone can’t keep their relationship going through finals, how can they expect to be even remotely equipped to handle tough times later on? Maybe you disagree on whether your kids should be religious. Or maybe friends are pressuring your spouse for money, and you don’t feel comfortable with it, so he lends it behind your back. Issues like these are far more serious than any petty irritability you might feel during times of heavy school pressure, and I’ll admit that it took me some time to see the bigger picture. But I’m glad I finally did.
But at the end of the day, I knew that no amount of effort on my part would be of much help if I wasn’t with the right person. Most of the people I broke up with during finals weren’t in school, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some people do just fine without higher education. But, for me, it posed some problems because they were unable to see how important and vital these weeks really were. They’d become clingy and insecure because I couldn’t devote as much time to them, which only made me less inclined to take time away to see them – a vicious cycle, I know. It was frustrating to me to hear them praise my grades and intelligence early on, only to complain and resent me when I actually had to take the time to work for those praise-worthy attributes as if they came without any genuine effort. As crazy as it may seem, I, like most people, have to work my butt off to maintain good grades, and anybody who doesn’t understand that, to me, isn’t worth the sacrifice.
So, find yourself someone who says, “Hey, it’s okay,” when you can’t hang out every day for two weeks (weekends included) in a row because you’re buried in notes and textbook pages. Or, better yet, find someone who is willing to stand by your side through those times, even if their finals don’t occur at the same time as yours, or they don’t have finals at all. And when you’ve found someone who brings you coffee, and orders you pizza to keep your engine running through the late, long nights, I’d say you’re doing alright, and there’s a good chance that that one will be able to stick around through the real stuff you’ll face together down the road.