Show more kindness to yourself, other students in midst of finals week stress

Michele Mathis and Michele Mathis

It’s easy to be hard on yourself during finals week.

It’s easy to be hard on yourself any week really, but finals week in particular, I’ve found.

The built up amount of stress that is placed upon a few single moments in a deathly quiet classroom can be quite unnerving.

As someone who deals with mild forms of test anxiety, the pressure to be perfect at the end of the semester almost causes a mild bout of amnesia when I enter the classroom to take a test.

This kind of pressure and stress leads to another problem that I have, which is stress eating.

I can never tell if I’m eating a bag of pretzels because I’m hungry or because I need something to distract my mind from my impending doom.

Either way, I never really get past the initial, “Should I really be eating this?” thought because usually I’ve finished the bag before the word “eating”.

Both pressures can cause extreme self-hatred. I look in the mirror and my high in fat diet has made my face break out and my jeans fit snugly.

My eyes are tired and droopy, products of late nights in the library or plain old insomnia.

As much information as I’m cramming in, a lot of the time I still find my memory lapsing and another chapter I forgot to read.

I find myself thinking, “College is annoying. College is dumb. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Then, it’s translated into, “I should be doing more. I should be better. I have to pass. I have to.”

Most of those phrases are common on a college campus, as harsh as they might sound.

Most students go through this “shame” phase during stressful and anxious weeks that are set to determine the outcome of expensive education.

A few nights ago, I watched a Juilliard master class with Joyce DiDonato, a famous mezzo-soprano, with my roommate and she was asked the question, “If you could do anything differently, would you?”

Her answer was, “No, but I would change the conversation with myself.” DiDonato went on to explain how we, as students, hold ourselves to a higher standard of excellence.

The pressure to succeed, to make ourselves better than anyone else so we can get a good job after we graduate, has forced us to become mean.

She offered a simple explanation: “You would never be mean to anyone else like you are mean to yourself.”

That quote has really stuck with me the past few days and I decided to try and live by it.

Washing my face the night after, I started picking at my skin, making it raw and red.

Before I could start to create my spiral downward thinking, I was pressed to be kind to myself.

I came to the realization that if I saw a new freshman beating themselves up as much as I was doing to myself, I would rush to their aid, making sure that the phrase, “Everything is going to be okay,” was imprinted in their mind.

Relief immediately flooded my body and mind.

This finals season, take a moment to be kind to yourself and those around you.

You never know who might need it.