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It’s that wonderful season in academia when the end of semester, the end of the school year is in view, but it’s beyond a set of monkey bars that you have to cross on arm strength alone…just after you’ve finished rope-climbing over a wall. Maybe I drew out that metaphor too far, but here in the final weeks of school, there is a mental, near physical exhaustion from the loads of projects, tests and essays that cruelly sync up in due dates.
It’s the part of the school year that you promise you’ll remember when you’re planning the next semester activities and events to which you’ll commit yourself. I’m definitely one of those people (and there are lots of us at Bethel), who piles it on thick because there’s such a wealth of things to be involved in that I enjoy. I was really disappointed when some semi-reasonable part of myself developed a practical sense of time and dissuaded me from auditioning for the spring play. It was by a playwright I’ve enjoyed in the past and being directed by one of my favorite teachers, but I had to back down and say ‘no’ for once.
It’s always a sticky situation, because I have some sense of how much I can accomplish in a set period of time, like a week, but I’m afraid I think of hours in a day without scheduling in necessary things–like eating–or accounting for unknowns–like wanting to go out with friends or sparing time to just talk about things. I also think it’s hard to figure out how being burnt out you’ll be on certain things at a given time of the year and how that will affect how quickly you can make yourself work on papers or projects. It was a good thing I recognized that the play would have been one thing too many.
But that doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of things to do. This coming weekend, I am presenting at a Neuroscience Conference in Minneapolis. I’m excited about the conference because it’s a rewarding achievement based on work with a psychology of music experiment I’ve been involved in since last summer. It’s also a good chance to represent myself to graduate programs that will be there.
However, there is part of me that wonders how much easier next week, and the week after that would be if I had had this weekend to work on long-term projects, rather than traveling and presenting.
Another problem is the sense of accomplishment that you get from turning in the slew of big projects at the end of the year. I just finished a near 30-page paper for my Modern Critical Theory class; I have a host of senior friends that have recently finished their seminars. There is such a huge relief you get from turning in something that big, but that often leads to feelings of “well, that means I’m done doesn’t it?” If only, the projects and tests will keep coming until the end of school.
I think I’ve decided that even though that relief is somewhat dangerous, it can’t be ignored. Even when there are five other things on your plate, it’s important to take a moment at least to be proud of making it past the last hurdle. Academic accomplishments may feel like something to get through a lot of the time, but I think the reason most of us get involved in higher education is because we believe we are bettering ourselves. Hopefully sloshing through the April showers of homework will be worth it when we arrive at May flowers of graduation, summer break, and whatever other adventures spring up.
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