I needed to write my Virginia Woolf final paper last night, and my friends, I was struck down by apathy. Otherwise known as senioritis, otherwise known as the senior slide, otherwise known as post-Thanksgiving culture shock. Suddenly, it all seemed futile: writing papers, doing readings, sitting through lectures, even serving on student government. How would any of this help me with my life’s work? I wondered. How was it relevant, and why was I killing myself with stress and fatigue juggling it all? Further, why did my intelligence have to be dependent on a literary paper, or a history exam? Why are we forcing our young people to compete like this, and to stretch themselves so thin that they can hardly breathe?
Giving up, I went to bed at eleven.
I skipped two classes today so that I could stay home and write, but still, I couldn’t come up with a good idea. A little of the apathy was gone, but the desperation that replaced it was even more paralyzing.
Now, sitting in an empty classroom in the social science building, To the Lighthouse propped open with my cell phone, Mrs. Dalloway marked over with pencil, I finally have an idea that could potentially become a ten page paper.
This is a small gain, however, as there are five more papers ahead. And two exams. And a senior seminar presentation. And a job interview.
The worst part about finals, let me tell you, is not the actual work: it’s the anticipation of the work, and of the effects said work will have on your well-being. It’s knowing that you won’t sleep, will eat whatever’s quick, and will not have any social contact outside of class and the library. It’s like a marathon: We prepare ourselves for it, we put ourselves through the intense stress of the actual event, and then when it’s over, we feel triumph, but we also wonder (maybe in the back of our minds) why we ran in the first place, and whether we’re really better for it.
I don’t know, folks, but I’m gearing up at the starting line regardless.