We are entering that time of the school year when we are in “go mode.” The semester is winding down and we're so close to winter break that we can almost taste it. But before we can have that victory, we have to endure the worst week of our lives: finals week. I know I know it's awful but I’m going to tell you something that we never hear. Finals week is not that important. WHAT?!? I know that sounds bananas because so much depends on that week but trust me it is not everything. Just stick with me here and let me explain why finals week is not that important.
WHAT?!? I know that sounds bananas because so much depends on that week but trust me it is not everything. Just stick with me here and let me explain why finals week is not that important.
Fish bowl effect
Have you ever heard of the fish bowl effect? It’s where our world around us consumes our every thought and we can't think of life outside our fishbowl. We refuse to imagine a future or world outside of our immediate context. But that’s just the thing. There is a whole world out there. There is a world where tests, papers, presentations, and final exams don't exist. I know sounds like it can't be true. It took me graduating from my undergraduate and entering graduate school to realize it. In undergraduate, you live on campus and are always consumed by the school life. It becomes a lifestyle, not just something you're doing. The only time you have to escape it is during breaks and even then it's just that, a break. After that small moment of reprieve, you enter right back into that world and become sucked in again.
If you ever decide to go to graduate school, you will see that there is a world of school and life. You’re able to see this because most graduate students don't live on campus or have school events all day. So when class is over you can just do what you want. I’m not saying you have all the free time in the world but you have more than in undergraduate. You are able to see there is a whole world out there outside of your schooling. One of my advisors always says, “don't let graduate school get in the way of your life.” Have you ever heard an undergraduate professor say that? I sure haven't and had never had the chance to think like that. But it’s real and so refreshing.
If you can’t leave the fishbowl mentality, let's at least step back a little and think about the whole semester. If finals week was so important, why wouldn't we just have one week of school and call it good? That’s because you have a whole semester to produce good grades. That one week will not define your whole semester. While, yes, some professors make the final to weigh heavily on your grade, it's not everything. Let’s say you make A’s on every assignment that semester, show up every day for those attendance points and read every reading. Then let's say you don't do so well on the final. Oh no, now you end up with a B. Do you know how awesome that is to still make a B. We become so sucked into this world that you must have an A and anything less is failure. Well, let me just tell you that I am proud of you for that B. Go you!
Effects of stress
The stress you put yourself through can be detrimental to your health. My best friend gained so many gray hairs in college and she is only 23. I think it's a problem when you have a lot of premature gray and you're not even 30. I developed IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) my freshmen year in college because of the stress and it didn't really go away until I graduated. The stress can even cause you to do worse than good. If you can't accept the first two points at least consider this one. Stressing yourself out can cause you to do worse than help and can cause long term effects. So consider this when finals week approaches.
Let’s go back to that fishbowl mentality. When you graduate and jump from your fishbowl to the ocean, everything that happened in the fishbowl won't matter as much. I have the perfect story for you. My best friend went H.A.M in college. Worked hard on every assignment no matter how small and would spend days working on a single paper. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0. When she went out looking for a job, it took her a bit but something she learned from every interview was that no one cared about her grades. They seemed to care more about her experience. In fact, when she landed her dream job they told her that was awesome that she graduated with a 4.0 but that wasn't important. It pretty much blew her mind and let me tell you that if she was writing this article it would be a lot of “DON'T GIVE A F**K ABOUT YOUR GRADES! PARTY MORE!”
Like I said, she's a bit bitter but there is some truth to those words. Don’t let your grades dictate your life. Instead, spend time making memories. Now I’m not saying to stop completely caring about grades because you want to graduate but don't let it consume your life. Even if your next goal is to get into medical school and you need high grades, don’t let it consume you. Because let's say you had one day left to live, would those grades still matter as much? Would school still consume you? We don’t know how long we have left on this planet and it shouldn't be filled with stress and worry. This is only a ⅕ of your life.
So please try not to stress so much about finals week because honestly, it is not that important. No matter what, though, just know that I am proud of you.