It’s that time of year again, friends. Midterm season is upon us. Even many of us who are no longer students are finding themselves in a state of overwhelming chaos, lately. Personally, I’ve had a Bad Week.
This week, I’ve had the worst and most debilitating anxiety attacks of my life. The most severe one happened immediately before a class, and after that class ended, I went straight into a test. I’ve woken up in cold sweats, cried my eyes out, gone to counselling, confided in my friends, scrolled through news feeds and websites…
And I’ve found that everyone is in pretty much the same situation.
Here’s the thing about uni (and, in fact, life). It’s no picnic. It can be hard – right now, fourth year feels so hard that I genuinely have no idea if I’ll ever graduate, and that is not an exaggeration. The challenges ahead seem so mountainous and insurmountable that at 5″7 I’ve never felt smaller. Things are difficult and arduous – and honestly, not always interesting.
I figured that I could use some practical advice on dealing with anxiety, so I went to the counselling centre. The counsellor asked me “What do you do to relax? When do you see your friends? How often do you exercise?”.
I was taken aback when I realised that I do none of these things on a regular basis. I only see my friends at work or during class. The most exercise I have time for is the standing, walking, and lifting boxes I do at my retail job. I haven’t been for a walk or a swim in about a month.
Here’s where is gets less depressing.
I’ve learned a lot about hardship from my mother. Whenever I would want to avoid or procrastinate something difficult she would fix me with a stare that saw straight through me and remind me that delayed gratification is rewarding, that “to sacrifice” means “to make holy”. She taught me that no matter how hard things get – no matter how deep into the void you may sink – the work still need to get done, and that things will eventually get easier.
Life is cyclical. Summer doesn’t last forever. Winter always melts into Spring. Even if midterm season is stressful and overwhelming, reading days are coming up soon, and the semester is halfway over. The worst and most isolating thing we can do to ourselves is making the mistake of thinking we are alone.
I’m so grateful to my friends and co-workers for their love and support this week. There is something so deeply moving about knowing the people you care about, admire, and respect feel the same about you. From my boss telling me “you’re a trooper, you’re doing so great” to my co-workers for expressing their support and concern, especially for the reminder that “It will get done. Even if you have to stay up all night and you cry the whole time and it totally sucks, even if it’s a day late, even if you hate it, you will get it done.”; to Kiera asking me on the phone “so, how can I help and hold you accountable for looking after yourself?” and Team Awesome cheering each other on via text, Twitter, Snapchat etc., I’m so moved to know that I’m not as alone as I thought.
So this is my message to you, my dear friends. The climb is brutal, but the view is going to be worth it. You are doing so well. You owe it to yourself to harvest the fruits of your own potential. The work must be done, and when it is over, you will be so proud of yourself. You will get it done. Know the difference between hard work and self-destruction. Know the difference between self-care and productive procrastination. Be fierce in your belief in yourself. I am cheering you on and I am so, so deeply proud of you.
Bon courage, mes amis. Now go get that work done.