It is a truth universally acknowledged by university students that November is the worst. Those essays, which once seemed so far away, now loom menacingly, coming due sooner than seems possible. Sleep deprivation has become the norm. Library naps have moved from the realm of something that weird guy does to something that has become necessary just to get through a Wednesday. And who among us can say we haven’t had a little stress cry or two in the last month? It is sometimes tempting, at this point in the semester, to let despair wash over you. I’m here to tell you not to let it.
I think it’s important to remember that, even though it may not feel like it when school becomes more overwhelming than seems possible, we’re incredibly lucky to be here. Even though post-secondary education should be universally accessible, it isn’t. Our province has the second highest tuition in the country, and we are among those with the means to attend. That is a privilege. I think it’s important, especially when the stress and the work don’t seem worth it, to remember how meaningful it is to have that privilege.
It’s also important to take a moment and notice the good things. Stress is bad for you. It can feed off of itself and multiply into hopelessness, even depression. It’s important to take stock of your mental health in a time as desolate and crappy as mid-November and to make sure that you’re taking good care of yourself. And, I firmly believe that if you have time for panic, you have time for pleasure.
Don’t forget to notice the particular way the sun hits the new snow on the green in the late afternoon. Don’t forget to taste how rich that good strong cup of coffee is as you enter your fifth straight hour of late-night essay writing. Give yourself a two-minute gift by calling a friend who always makes you laugh. Try establishing a reward system wherein you earn one funny cat video for every two pages you write. Go for lots and lots of walks. Ask your roommate (or, if you’re me, your mum) for frequent hugs. And for goodness’ sake, start taking vitamin D.
Sometimes when it seems impossible to complete every assignment, when you can’t possibly study for that test anymore, when you can’t possibly do one more second of research, you have to take a minute and remind yourself to breathe. Sometimes you just have to take a minute, blast some crappy pop music, and have a dance party with yourself at two o’clock in the morning. The good news is, November is on its way out. Just remember that life is good, that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and that it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.