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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Columns

Escaping the end of the semester blues


The end of the semester is rapidly approaching. This means that many students are frantically struggling to get caught up in their classes, throw together group presentations and vomit out research papers.

In this time, it is easy to fall into — or back into — a state of depression. This is because students often define themselves by how well they are doing in their classes, how involved they are in extracurricular activities and how well their professors like them.

It is dangerous to let yourself be defined by such things. When students define themselves by their successes and failures, they set themselves up for a tumultuous semester.

It is important for students to find a point of stasis, to separate themselves from all of the negative stimuli that comes with being in college and end their negative self-talk. When you strip away all of your external stressors, all you have is yourself. If you learn to accept and be happy with that self, the rest of your time in college will be a lot more pleasant.

If you are in the midst of an end of the semester existential funk, you can channel a faint optimism by making the decision to not allow that situation to define you. Making a bad grade or failing a class is not a moral failure. It may mean that you need to work harder next semester, or that you need to take a lighter course load, but it does not mean that you are less of a person.

Part of the problem is that we often create unrealistic expectations for ourselves and consider ourselves to be total failures if we don’t meet those expectations.

Unless you are a budding narcissist, and are extremely vocal about your unrealistic expectations for yourself, most people have no idea what those expectations are. And even if they do know, it is highly unlikely that they will judge you for not meeting them. Or, at least they will not judge you to the degree in which you judge yourself.

When many of us graduate, we will try to go into fields that have been decimated by the economic recession. And, it is highly likely that the majority of us will not make a smooth transition from college life to a steady job.

It is extremely important for students to learn that they are not a collection of successes and failures before they make the post-college plunge. If they never learn this, they are setting themselves up for a rollercoaster ride of a life.

Your failures will cut less, and your successes will be sweeter if you strive to experience them with a level head, acknowledging that while they are a part of you, they do not define you.

Daniel Renfrow is a senior anthropology and print journalism double major and may be reached at [email protected]

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