Surviving Finals: A 12-Step Program
Blogger: Jazzy Lee
The aforementioned title, “Finals Survival Guide”, is a smidge misleading because finals devour your entirety: masticating you slowly only to casually spit you up on the banks of the AGC in that no-man’s-land between Fowler and Johnson at 3:57 AM as you struggle to remember where you live and what the passcode to your room is. Nonetheless, here are 12 steps to survive this recurring and devastating event in your undergrad experience.
Denial and Avoidance. Just like any other grieving process, you know you are about to lose your mind and act accordingly. You eschew your academic and career goals to loaf around in a pair of fuzzy socks lamenting the perfection of Kerry Washington’s face instead of facing up to theorist exams on Althusser and Saussure and your papers on Settler Colonialism in Avatar and theological deviations in Paradise Lost. Your backpack has seemingly disappeared and you are too busy manicuring the perfect Instagram page to care. This stage is a worrying but necessary component for survival of the Finals epidemic.
The Moment of Revelation. A casual knock at the door and a friend’s entrance are common and welcome intrusions to my Babe Cave. But then a very simple phrase is uttered, “So I know this is last-second, but I was studying for the Montag final and what are your notes on Spivak?” Spivak exists. Professor Montag exists. The final exists and I have to take it. AHHH!
Library is Life. You have cozily cornered a nook of your very own in the library. That nook is your HOME. It is your LIFE. You cannot remember the last time you saw another face or had a conversation or even ate, but it does not matter because your are a productive QUEEN who is going to slay finals like some nasty old dragon and sail off into the sunset of success. At this point in the game you will do anything for a laptop charger, a latte, and a pillow. Your mind is exhausted, but you are empowered by your own progress.
You know NOTHING. You’re buzzing and humming and moving along. You’re thumping and bumping to your very own song. When it hits you like a Scream Queen’s slap to your tired cheek: you know NOTHING! All this theory does not make any sense – is any of this even real? IS my course of study even valid in this day and age? Am I a pointless cog in a vain machine? Maybe.
Save Me, Please? You reach out your families, friends, professors, saviors. But families cannot relate, friends are too busy with their respective finals, and professors cannot re-teach the entire course so you sit in office hours pleading with your eyes. No saviors are to be found. Except a glorious friend – maybe her name is Chloe, perhaps Siyanna, or even Liz, brings you a Blue Velvet (earl grey tea latte with a shot of vanilla and lavender, life-changing) or some Pho – and you are revitalized. You can do this!
I will just re-read the entire course, I’ve got this. You create a master to-do list, caress the syllabus, stack up the readings, novels, and play the films in rotation in the background. Until you realize that is physically impossible to redo the entire class (and even then, all four of them!). Upon that realization you slouch towards the only place that really understands you, the on-campus coffee shop, the Green Bean.
Green Bean Delirium. Inside the Green Bean you promptly order all your favorite beverages and pastries nomming, chomping, and slurping away in a flurry of finals fervor. The caffeine and sugar are your only fuel and your body hates you for it. You type and read and bob along to some bopping beats yet somehow still feel defeated even though the beautiful barista Raven puts hearts next to your name on the cup. You take one last drink to go, seven isn’t too much, right? Because you need it more than ever.
I want my Dog/Mom/Dad/Brother/BFF from High School/Childhood Teddy Bear. This phase is more insidious than the last. Sucked into that cyber seductive hole that is Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram you see something, anything that reminds you of home. Suddenly you need to call your mom or cuddle with your cat. And that leads you into the whining of . . .
Can I just go home now? This is the most futile of phases. No, you cannot. You were just there for Thanksgiving and now it is Finals so put your nose to the grindstone. Seriously, don’t even go down this path. You cannot. Get over it already.
Bargaining, Wishing, Hypothetical Existence. Like any other stage of grief you begin to go into crazy hypothetical situations mostly involving sudden natural disasters, cunning heists, and superpowers. Mostly anything you can potentially do that stops time, delays finals for a week (a minute even or for all eternity?) or freezes everything, I just want to be Elsa from Frozen, okay?! I’m letting it all go.
OH SH*T, IM TAKING THE FINAL RIGHT NOW OHMIGOD. You are in a desk, equipped with a Blue Book and a pen. The clock is glaring down at you and the tiny right-handed desk taunts your left-handed existence. Breathe in, breathe out. The time is now. Prove yourself.
Motherloving Success, Motherlovers! Once again, none of this matters. You pirouette your way out the door and into an airport/car/train/boat and make your way to your hometown. See you next semester, finals!