Things I’ve Discovered While Trying not to Die During Finals Week

So, going into this last month of the semester, I was convinced that it was going to kill me. I had 30 pages to write, 4 voice lessons to teach, two mega-finals I had to study for, and countless other little worries, such as finding out where I was going to live over the summer, where I was going to work, when I was going to try for my license, and not to mention finding out that my grandmother had fallen ill and her mother, my great-grandmother, had passed.

I haven’t really had a chance to mourn yet. I couldn’t take off work for the visitation because being able to pay my rent depends on me working my regular schedule. It is a comfort to know that she passed peacefully, and that she lived a long, full life–she was 93, and the last time I saw her she was still as lively and spirited as ever. It wasn’t sudden or unexpected. And that’s a comfort. 

On top of that, I have had to put off creative writing altogether, mainly my novel. I am actually in a creative writing class, so I was forced to write some poetry and an ironic ‘Ode to Frodo Baggins’, as well as a rant about people getting engaged all over campus. But that’s not what I wanted to do. This academic writing had to get done first, and everything else had to be put on hold so I could finish it and make the grade.

So I’ve done nothing but study these past few weeks. Study and write, write and study. And in being forced to make study my legitimate ‘state-of-life’ (fancy that, me being a student, right?), I’ve learned many things about myself that I think have made this whole process worth it.

Number one: Prayer is the most important lifeline I have. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been tempted to just quit college and get a job. But each hour, when I remembered to say a short little prayer and asked Our Lord to help me get through all of this work, He has provided. And the Rosary each night, even with my mind crowded with concerns, has been the greatest comfort and treasure I own, even if my flesh tried to deny that fact and distract me with temporal concerns and worries. Our Lady has worked wonders for me and I know has obtained many blessings and graces for me to be able to complete all of my coursework this semester. Deo Gratias! 

Number two: God provides us with tremendous helps and encouragements from other people. If it weren’t for my American Lit professor’s percolated coffee and cookies, if it weren’t for my boyfriend’s constant encouragement to keep going, if it weren’t for acquaintances and classmates who were willing to commiserate and let me comfort them, if it weren’t for teachers constantly telling me that they see wonderful things in me…it would have been much harder to persevere.

Number three: Organization is a stress-reliever. Once I discovered the value of making bibliography notes on index cards, color-coding my notes and drafts, and labeling sticky tabs to mark all of my readings, everything seemed to go much quicker and much more smoothly. 

Number four: I have an addiction to coffee. I think this was true before, but caffeine has helped chase away the stress migraines and little headaches that liked to attack me just when I really needed to get things done.

Number five: Writing all of these papers in a short period of time has shown me how much I’ve grown as a writer and how much I need to grow. Being put under pressure really brings out one’s true colors, and I’ve discovered many of my strengths and weaknesses. This will be very helpful, as I’m hoping to continue my novel over the summer. 

Number six: I can handle anything that comes at me in life, if I cling to Our Lord, to prayer, to devotion, and never EVER give up a spiritual practice, especially prayer, even if I find it hard to find spare time. Our Lord provides to those who seek Him earnestly. And never do we seek more earnestly than when hard times come.

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