Screaming On the Inside

Don’t panic … OK panic

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I think this semester has flown by. And with the sweet relief of an upcoming winter break comes the impending sense of doom accompanying finals week.

You know the sense of doom I’m talking about. 

It’s this terrible feeling of the calm before the storm. You go from your usual levels of stress and anxiety to heightened levels of dread and despair.

To me, it just always feels like too much at once — the papers, exams, presentations and projects. And that’s not even including jobs or other responsibilities. Everything just crashes into you and it all feels so high-stakes. 

I’m sure some people would consider this a bit over-dramatic. And that’s fair — not everyone experiences a crazy-stressful finals week. I never actually want to interact with someone who doesn’t get stressed out by finals, though. Just a personal preference.

This year, I’m feeling particularly stressed and tired. I expected as much, though. What can I say? I’ve got a lot on my plate. 

For some people, the goal here would be to remain calm. That’s not an issue for me. I am calm — probably too calm, actually. I’m worried that it’s not so much of a calmness, but rather an acceptance of defeat. 

What I really need is to panic. That might seem counterintuitive, but allow me to explain. I panic a lot. I thrive when I panic. When I panic, I get stuff done. It’s stressful and it makes me feel awful and exhausted, but it’s effective.

However, I’m fairly certain I’m beyond that point.

I haven’t gone to counseling in a few weeks. I had to cancel my last appointment because I had too much stuff going on, and I’ve been too preoccupied to reschedule. I know it would be beneficial for me to go back, but honestly, I just want to make it through these next two weeks with as much time available for studying and homework as possible.

So without a professional to talk things through with, I instead have to remind myself of my mantra: It will all work out in the end. It’s what I told myself during my parents’ divorce, and it’s what I’m telling myself now.

No matter how hard things feel in the moment, I always come out on the other side thinking, “Oh, that actually wasn’t as hard as I expected.” Except for the parental divorce. But that’s a whole other can of worms we’re not going to open right now.

So really, this is just my long way of telling you all that I’m not mentally prepared for these next two weeks. Thinking about everything I have going on right now is really overwhelming. At this point, I really only care about making it through everything in one piece. 

I don’t want the rest of you to feel that way, though. So here are seven tips for surviving finals week, according to The Odyssey:

  1. Start studying as soon as possible.
  2. Make sure you’re getting healthy amounts of sleep each night.
  3. Eat healthy foods.
  4. Take breaks between work.
  5. Go to the gym or work out.
  6. Dress for success.
  7. Relax and take a deep breath.

I’m not going to lie, numbers 2, 3 and 5 are all a hard “no” from me, but the rest sound doable. Don’t be like me. Be better than me.

I know finals have a lot of us screaming on the inside — or the outside. But an end is in sight. Just hold on, Blugolds. All we have to do is power through and hope for the best. Or work hard and study like crazy. Whatever feels right for you.

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected].