I’ve never seen so much caffeine in one home in my life. Coffee, Mountain Dew, Kombucha, and Five Hour Energy – even straight up caffeine pills. There’s only one possible explanation: finals season is upon us.
We’re all struggling here. There’s no lie and no shame in it – finals are hard. Everyone knows it. We sleep less, and when we do, it’s often in strange places. We drink more coffee and wear the same outfit – leggings and a comfy sweatshirt – three days in a row. We cry in the open and disappear into the library for days at a time. When our mothers call to ask how we’re doing, we respond “I’m alive.” And we wear it all as a badge of honor, a competition among students to see who has it the worst, who is going the craziest.
I know the temptation to say to yourself “Exams are only for one week, I can manage for that long” or “I don’t have any other options – I’ll fail if I don’t pull this all-nighter”. So, I’ll appeal to your academia instead: you will do better on your finals if you take care of yourself. It’s true. Your body and your mind are connected at every level in every moment. Take care of one and you take care of the other.
I encourage you today to listen to your body. If you feel greasy or dirty, take a shower – and if you can’t take a shower, brush your teeth, wash your face, and change your underwear. It can make a world of difference. If you’re hungry, eat. Try to get a balanced meal – maybe with some protein, maybe a fresh fruit or vegetable. Drink a glass of water. When you leave your exam, go walk around campus for ten or fifteen minutes. Call your mom while you do, or just enjoy the quiet and calm for a few moments. Remember to practice good sleep hygiene – and actually get some rest. When you get overwhelmed, take a break (and not just a Facebook-surfing break. A real break, away from your computer). Be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if and when you need it. Take a moment to appreciate how lucky we are to be here, struggling through our finals, getting a world-class education. Remember that your worth does not depend on any number: not your weight; not how much money is in your bank account; not your GPA; and not what grade you get on that one really hard final (you know the one). Remind yourself again, and again, and again – as many times as it takes for it to sink in. Breathe. I believe in you.
Good luck, Tar Heels! You’re going to do just fine.