The other day a friend asked me why I was stressing about my exam when I had a full seven days comprised of 168 hours until doomsday during which to spread my work?
Mid-note making for said exam, I decided to promptly answer his question as my way of “taking a break.”
“No, I’m working that week, so I don’t have as much time”
“Oh you work on Finals week, why?”
It dawned on me that this was a loaded (and slightly emotion inducing) question once I realised that my fingers had paused at the fringe of the keyboard and my immediate response wasn’t the cliché type that my generation in their early part-time jobs echo a few times a year – “because I need the money.”
For me, during Finals week, every space that can accommodate me, myself and my textbooks moulds into my new study space. This is something I have deemed (or potentially overheard and then deemed) as deranged exam perspective syndrome (‘DEP syndrome’ for short).
Through the lens of DEP syndrome, a coffee table at Starbucks is not for conveniently resting your piping hot beverage anymore, it is stable support on which to place your laptop that feels seemingly heavier now that it has several documents and tabs opened (ones that can only be closed once exams are over). A seat on the train in the mornings is not for you to catch up on the sleep you lost the night before whilst up late studying, instead, the words lap and top become literal as I sit the overheating machine on top my lap to type some more. For a lover of late nights and cosy sleep ins, the worst part is that my bed is not for sleep but to revise work in more varying positions, fooling myself into thinking that studying can be a comfortable endeavour.
From the chair and sink at the hairdressing salon to the passenger’s side of my best friend’s ride, I am taunted into a guilt trip if I indulge in the simple, romantic thoughts of using these spaces in a manner other than for studying (including the conventional).
The only exception to this horror – is my desk at work. During Finals Week work is the one and only place where I can leave my DEP syndrome at the door and be consumed into tasks and activities that are varying, that can be completed that day and offer you a sense of fulfilment, that challenge you but not to the point of breakdown.
I’ve always said that my place here in GV has complemented my work at Uni and being a Uni student complements my work at GV. But during finals week the former is especially true.
I’ve understood that having a varying number of obligations is important and critical to satisfying each individual obligation to a higher standard. If the majority of our time becomes about focusing solely on one feat day in and day out, then with time, that feat becomes the last thing we want to look at. As someone with DEP syndrome, I need a break, but one that still feels productive, meaningful and not necessarily a choice so that I don’t feel guilty for taking it in the first place.
For this reason, I try and not completely cut off from coming into the office during Finals Week. It’s something I need to do in order to stay balanced. It is necessary for me to go to the office and to engage in different types of narratives that stimulate and challenge me in a unique way compared to monotonous studying, to then stay home the next day and focus on exam prep. And it also feels good to see and sit next to my work peers who ask me how I am doing, give me helpful tips and indirectly take my mind off what’s on this Saturday.
So with all that being said, and from my GV desk – wish me luck!