Breaking free of the quarter‘s strong current, nearly at the surface, your lips can almost taste the freedom‘s fresh air. But before you can even take a half-breath, you are jerked back beneath the waves.
Thanksgiving Break was just a decoy.
We are all beginning to feel this in the quarter‘s final crunch. It‘s a time when the hard-working scholar and lazy student alike feel reality‘s clamps begin to crush their skulls; when worry enters the bloodstream like some kind of spoiled liquor. I know I‘m feeling it. We all are. This week I want to take a break from politics and history. I want to talk about life.
Just as the scorching Davis summer gives way to the bone-chilling winter with little hint of autumn, we enter college as children and without even realizing it, grow up. We begin as scared freshmen, thinking we have it all figured out. Things don‘t always turn out exactly as we planned, but through our failures and successes we became better for it.
It‘s funny to reach the point in your life where you can no longer talk about what you are going to be or do when you grow up; because whether you noticed it or not, it has already happened. The time to act, the time to be who you always wanted to be, is now.
I always bought into the idea that knowledge is power and inevitably leads to success in life. I still stand by this belief. But if there is one thing I‘ve learned in college, it‘s that the test of a successful college career is not entirely based on classroom performance. I am no advocate for the low-life who justifies excessive partying with the argument that college is only about having fun.
But I would also encourage the anti-social library rat to close the books every now and then, venture outside, and live life, because that‘s what college is all about. It‘s about learning through our experiences. It‘s about figuring out what drives you, what you stand for, and finding balance between work and play. College is a bona fide human incubator that determines who you will be for the rest of your life.
It‘s easy to lose perspective of reality when we get caught up in our little worlds and forget what truly matters. Although it may be hard to believe, the bad grade you got in that class you worked so hard to succeed in will not herald the end of days. In two weeks the class that was your life‘s bane for 10 weeks will be out of your life forever.
At the same time, it is wasted privilege to fail that class because you did not put in the effort. In the end, it‘s all about whether you can look back and know that you did the best you could, learned from your mistakes, and always did what you felt was right. I‘d say that was a life worth living. At the end of the day you are the only one who will have to face the reflection in the mirror.
So what can you do right now to make it through this stressful time?
First, believe in yourself. You were admitted into UC Davis because you are a capable student.
Second, make a plan. You know when your finals are; figure out what needs to be done and by when.
Third, avoid social temptations. Not everyone will be as committed to success as you, so know when to say no. Find a comfortable place where you can focus and get things done, like the library or the Coho (i.e. somewhere that is not Froggy‘s, G-Pub, or your friend‘s basement).
Finally, put it all in perspective. All you can expect to do is your best. Nothing more, nothing less.
I know. I‘m the quotes guy. You are just going to have to deal with it. But think about these words in the days ahead: “It is not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you will become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.“
You have the ability to change your academic fortunes right now. Get organized, get motivated, and study hard.
Whatever you do, just don‘t forget to breathe.
MICHAEL HOWER will be living in the library for the next week and a half. He‘ll be the guy in the main study hall evading the library monitors and unassumingly munching on Goldish. If you also enjoy Goldfish, then contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.