Why I'm truly grateful for finals. No joke.
It’s that wonderful time of year when college students everywhere are hiding behind giant textbooks, eating nothing but Easy Mac and ice cream, refusing to shower for four days straight, and going to class with blood-shot eyes because they only got two hours of sleep.
This, my friends, is known as finals week.
Whether you are studying for a cumulative exam on Microbiology or are completing a final twenty-page paper on Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, it’s no secret that all of the hard work you put into an entire semester of class comes down to this final week of what we equate to torture. But why do we have to complain about it so much? I think about the blog posts, Tumblrs and GIFS floating around social media that talk about how finals week is the worst thing that you can ever experience and how it will be a miracle if you make it out alive. But really, when you look at all that’s going on in the world, finishing your finals is nowhere near a miracle; it’s a privilege.
I think, as college students, we too often forget about how much of a privilege it is to take time to do nothing but learn. Of course, many of us are also balancing our schoolwork with work-work. As hard as it is at times, I am so thankful that I get to juggle multiple jobs while still being a full-time student. I take pride in the fact that I will be able to work forty hours during finals week and I consider myself lucky because I know there are people around the world (and in my backyard) who would line up to take advantage of the opportunities that I have.
In a world that is so economically divided, it’s sometimes hard as privileged people to understand what is happening outside of our little bubble. We can’t forget how lucky we are to be in a position to get an education, and that’s the bottom line.
Finals are hard. I totally understand that. That twenty-page paper on Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath I mentioned above? That’s on my to-do list and it’s been quite difficult for me. Instead of complaining about how much it sucks or how much I hate finals, I think, “I GET to finish this final. I don’t HAVE to.” And you know what? It’s true. I don’t have to do anything. No one is holding a gun to my head to finish my paper. My world will not come crashing down before me if I don’t finish. I get the opportunity to finish it.
CEO Bert Jacobs from the company Life is Good gave a talk at the beginning of the year challenging everyone to start changing the way they use certain language. Instead of saying “I have to do the laundry,” he suggests saying, “I get to do the laundry.” We don’t have to do anything. Sure we have to eat, drink water, and bathe. But just remember how much of a privilege it is for a lot of us to walk into our kitchen and see cupboards full of food. Think of all the things you GET to do instead of the things you think you HAVE to do.
As finals week approaches, the challenge is to keep this in mind. When you think your brain can’t hold another ounce of information, remember how lucky you are to be learning all of these amazing things. Just think about how you are almost done with yet another semester and are that much closer to getting your degree.
For me, the motivation that keeps me going is thinking of all of the things I want to do after I graduate, like working with kids to make their college dream a reality. I know how lucky I am and how many opportunities I have. All of us are lucky as we muscle our way through finals week. We can’t forget that fact.