Stressed Out and Struggling

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Author: Michael Darling

As everyone surely knows, it’s almost finals week. All the usual signs of this biennial tradition are here: People are camping out in the library, complaining of a lack of sleep and feverishly tapping away at keyboards. As people start staying up all night and flirting with Adderall addictions, I offer this one word of advice: RELAX! Yes, finals are a stressful time, but we need to take a step back, breathe easy and not get so caught up in the finals madness that’s spreading across Oxy like the plague.

I can already hear a few of you out there saying that I’m lazy, na’ve or worse. I am not advocating slacking on finals. I’m just saying we need to not let them get to us. Yes, you may have a lot of work to do before you can go off and enjoy the break, but so does everybody else. We’re all in the same boat. Rather than just complain, let’s bring about some positive energy and support each other by getting together and taking a small portion of finals time to simply enjoy life.

Unfortunately, society doesn’t really permit us to just take some time off. We as a generation have become too stressed out. Our lives have been overscheduled and pre-planned since birth and we no longer have any time to just enjoy ourselves. We’re living in a generation where preschool is considered an essential part of schooling and there is an overwhelming demand that children’s life trajectories be planned from an early age. On top of that, society has long dictated a strict path for us – to go to school, get a job, retire and die. It’s like the old Bob Dylan line, “Twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift.” If college is supposed to be our last bastion of “freedom,” why do we allow ourselves to be driven mad by finals?

I offer these two handy unorthodox tips for studying for finals which have always worked for me. First, take at least an hour out of your day to do something that has no connection with what you’re studying. This could be anything from going for a run to watching a movie or even reading Wikipedia’s highly detailed history of the Justice League. I maintain that going over mass amounts of information about the same tiring topic will only make you start to forget it or hate it. Instead, step away for a while and come back to it with the happy knowledge that your day hasn’t been dominated by work. After your much-needed study break, you will probably find that you feel refreshed and ready to work again.

My other personal tip is that whatever you do, do not go to the library to study. This one always comes as a shocker to people, but it makes sense. Of course you should go over there for whatever books you need. However, during finals time, the library is a sad place full of stressed out people. The fact that it’s a dark and quiet building doesn’t help. So instead, go somewhere that’s happy and bright. The benches in the quad are perfect for this when the weather is nice (which it nearly always is, this being L.A.). The Cooler and the Green Bean also work nicely because people are typically more jovial there, whether due to the effects of caffeine or the presence of people.

Those are my suggestions for how to survive during finals. You might not need them, but just do your best to not let the exams and papers drive you crazy. In short, this finals season, don’t let the work drive you up the walls – try to live a little. Remember, life is for the alive and the last thing you want is to let a few little exams kill you.

Michael Darling is a senior History major. He can be reached at mdarling@oxy.edu.

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