Ah, it is that time of year again, the fateful period between Thanksgiving break and winter holiday. A time where the air is cold, the days are short, and the study breaks are long. The few weeks of school most of us have between now and the nearly month long period of freedom is nothing short of a torturous mix of cramming, test-taking, and the overall sigh of relief that comes when you pack up your bags and head home.
The rising pressure put on college students across the country comes into full effect during these three weeks. An entire semester's worth of information needs to be crammed into our over-stimulated brains just long enough for us to retain it for a certain paper, test or presentation. We are forced to finally get off of Facebook, Twitter, and (God help you if you use) Pinterest just so we can prove to our parents that we are actually taking advantage of the academic time spent in school. Whether it be the self-control app, turning off your Wi-Fi, or shoving Adderall down your throat, we somehow always manage to get things done.
Cramming in and of itself is an art form, something we promise ourselves we will stop doing but find ourselves up all too late every night around this time of year trying to remember where all the time went. We recall the endless nights of drinking instead of studying, the days spent trolling your ex's recently unblocked Instagram rather than paying attention in class, or simply not really caring about school until the days are numbered and the end is in sight. To me cramming is something useful. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and don't stop until my train is parked at the station and I am turning in that final essay. I can't fathom how much I could accomplish if I were as productive as I am now, every day of the year.
Part of me wishes that I were different, but a large part of me is comforted by the near decade of cramming I have done before. More comfort is brought by knowing that the guy sitting next to me who smells like shit, has ordered delivery twice, and has smoked nearly an entire pack worth of cigarettes, is most likely a little worse off than I am. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone, but even more comfort in knowing that there is always someone else out there who has it worse than you. Whoever that person is, I feel pretty bad for you, but secretly and inexplicably am glad that you are suffering just a tad bit more than me. It is also nice to know that one day this will all end. One day there will be no more papers, exams, or endless academic bullshit.
The difference between the "real world" and the college world, is that the physical detriments of procrastination are monetarily based rather than letter based. Not being able to eat is far more severe than the difference between a B and a B+. Although I doubt the procrastination will end completely, there is something about being out there on your own, being professional, and accomplishing what you are meant to accomplish that just isn't there in college. We have a shared joy in our misery whereas in work, if you are miserable at your job, chances are you'll be fired or you'll quit.
So as I sit here doodling away on the keyboard, the pressure continues to mount. It seems that we will do almost anything to avoid sitting down, shutting up, and tuning out the stimulating reality around us. At the end of the day, papers need and will get done but only after procrastination has reached a point of no return. It is impossible to wish an end to dilly-dallying, but I wish there were a part of me that could be that goody-two-shoes that turns in the essay a week early rather and a few minutes late. Hopefully that isn't too much to ask for this holiday season.