By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Final exam period is the most stressful time for any college student. Yet somehow, despite how I have four final exams coming up in the next week, I don't find myself to be the least bit stressed. That isn't to say that I don't care about college or finals because I've absolutely put effort into studying and completing the projects I've needed to get done, but I don't see the purpose of being stressed out. In the end, you're simply putting extra pressure on yourself, and if you constantly worry that you aren't going to do well on something, odds are you probably won't.
I don't mean to scare you with that statement, but that mindset can be applied to just about anything in life. If you think you're going to lose a match or a fight, you've given your opponent the advantage and you've already lost. If you think your relationship is going to fail, it likely will because that's all that is on your mind. A positive attitude prepares you for a positive experience. Don't just think you're going to do well. Assure yourself you'll do well in anything you do by backing it up: study hard, avoid waiting until the last minute, and come prepared. I know there will be times you'll study like crazy for a test and still do poorly, but hey, at least you weren't stressed out! There wasn't much more you could have done at that point (maybe you just didn't understand the material as well as you thought you did).
To my fellow college (or even high school) students out there, the best thing you can do is not freak out like the rest of your classmates about finals. I've never understood why people waste time complaining about finals. I'm not downplaying their difficulty, but it's not as if they're a new concept and they came out of nowhere. You've known about them for months. That's almost the equivalent to complaining about the sun rising tomorrow morning. You know it's going to happen, so why whine? I understand you hate exams, but as students, we all do. Now start doing something about it, and remember that once it's over, you'll have nothing to worry about (or at least less to worry about).
I came to this conclusion just recently, but I might actually enjoy finals. Okay, let me clarify. I don't like taking tests or doing projects, especially three at the same time (I have three separate presentations back-to-back-to-back this coming Wednesday). But I like being busy. When I'm bored or have nothing going on, where's the fun and excitement in that? I've had quite a bit going on this past week for school and other things, but as a result, I've been more motivated than I've been in months. I thrive off it. That said, everyone functions differently, and there are those who don't do as well under pressure. That's completely okay.
Break down your basic behaviors (warning: we might get super deep here for a moment). Why do you do what you do? Who do you do it for? Your family? Friends? A special someone? Think of them. Think of that goal you've been working toward, and how everything you're going through right now will be worth it in the end. It always is. I'm a big believer that hard work pays off and that everything happens for a reason. Even the bad stuff. It's typically during our most arduous times that we learn the most about ourselves and what we're capable of. If you can get through this stressful time, what's stopping you from conquering everything else in your life?
I know this is pretty much the premise of every one of my "Injection of Inspiration" blog posts, but the key to not getting stressed out is to think positive. Yes, it's easier said than done, but it is absolutely achievable. It's all about the mindset you have. If you whine, complain and make life miserable for yourself and everyone around you, you're not doing anyone any favors. You may pass the test (congrats, I guess), but at what cost? You've gotten no sleep. You're tired. You've annoyed everyone around you. You're going to be tired either way, but as long as you don't let the stress get to you, you might only be burned out physically and not mentally.
During any stressful time, think about what makes you happy. Most importantly, take a break. Some may work well when they don't take breaks, but for the majority of people, a break every now and again is necessary. Don't over do it, of course, but after you get half your stuff done, sit back, relax and enjoy an episode of your favorite show before getting back to work. You have to learn to discipline yourself, especially if you're in college or older and your parents aren't there every step of the way to hold your hand. In life, you'll have to make your own decisions.
Bad things are going to happen in your life (as well as things you can't control or prevent or predict), and with it will come stress, but you have two options. You can either take the easy way out and let the stress succumb you, forcing your life to fall apart around you. Or you can work through it with a positive mental attitude. We are not defined by what happens to us in life but rather how we react to it and by what we do. You control and hold responsibility over your own actions. Stress is your No. 1 enemy. I'm not saying the process of overcoming stress is a breeze, but if you can focus on the positive and stay driven and determined, it is possible to pass the stress test.
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