I can’t focus.
I am sitting in Union South, observing the hunched backs and working minds of my fellow students, yet I still can’t seem to focus like them.
“C’mon, you have to do this,” one part of me says, trying yet failing to dive into the massive amounts of work I have yet to begin. “I just can’t focus. I should sleep … No, I can’t do that either, then I won’t have time to get everything done!”
The next thoughts push in, speaking from my body, and responding with logic.
I’m exhausted and depleted, staring at screens or textbooks or spreadsheets while in a constant search for outlets and coffee and water fountains.
The worst part is that I know, even with the perfect table, a full water bottle and outlets galore — I will still be facing the mountain of work I faced yesterday, only making progress at what seems like a glacial pace.
“It’s only a week and a half, you can handle that!” The rational part of my brain steps in, attempting to put my exhaustion into perspective, yet also reminding me of the ever-present timeline I no longer need a planner to keep track of.
“It’s only a week and a half. How the hell am I going to get all of this done in just a week and a half?!”
Walking through different campus buildings, I often look at the posters that explain how important it is to take care of yourself during finals — suggesting you take the time to workout and eat right, maybe even get a full 8 hours of sleep!
“Bullshit,” I think.
Anyone who’s trying their best to get an A, which in some classes means getting over a 94 percent overall, knows that one break, one good meal, one more hour of sleep — and your world might collapse.
It feels like the light has been sucked out of me, only to be replaced with the glow of my Student Center — showing all B’s, C’s and D’s that will lower the worth of my GPA, simultaneously lowering my perception of my self-worth. There my fearful future stands in the light’s old place, as if to remind me what could happen if I stopped moving through this cavern of work.
It’s times like these I start to spiral, not sure if I know who I am or what I’m capable of — questioning how I’ve even gotten this far in my life.
Heavy queries, I know.
But a large part of me believes that intense stress and these heavy queries get easier when I can affirm to myself why they’re worth going through.
As I sat, unable to muster an ounce of focus in Union South, I thought back to a poem I wrote earlier this semester — reminding me of what I needed to affirm.
These words, written months ago, are just a compilation of thoughts that bring light back into my life. Before this article, they sat idle on my desktop and often felt idle in my life.
But in all their nameless glory, I’ve decided to share them with you today — not for your approval, but as a reminder that these thoughts of light are still around, even in the presence of the dark and heavy queries brought on by the finals week sludge.
So here they are, as raw and original as they’ve always been:
I wanna run a race
I wanna go to Barcelona and run a god damn race.
I wanna get stellar grades this semester.
I’d love to cook more. God I love cooking
I want more God in my life,
walks with god and prayers.
You know I think God should be a lowercase letter
because god is not a proper noun that stands among the wealthy
god is everyone’s cheerleader
and loving parent
but with more love than a parent because he created all parents
he does not only know the love of a single human, but he knows love at the capacity of all humans.
and thinking about all that power,
all that strength and abundant goodness,
I can’t imagine having a better sidekick while navigating through the world.
I wanna go back to Montana
and peak so. many. mountains.
I want to feel beautiful
I wanna feel sexy and kind.
I want to feel powerful and in control of my own body.
I am sure of my actions,
but I want to be confident in them.
I want to see studying as a blessing,
as a gift of time in my life where I learn about the world around me
and learn about where I fit in it.
I want to be inspired
but I mostly want to be thankful
for the gift of knowledge that I take for granted so often.
I want to dream again
without thinking about logistics
without thinking about how things should be but more about what they could be.
I want to feel alive
and know it deep down into my soul.
I want to feel the purpose of life
or rather just the love of it consume me every day.
I wanna go to a football game
and go out like I’m 20 again.
I want a reason to drink and I want it to be adventurous
and full of laughter
I want to be healthy
and go to kickboxing
I want to go to lots of yoga.
I want to help.
I want to stop feeling bad for receiving the love I’ve received.
I wanna to do spoken word poetry
and be more like Cleo Wade
and I want my chest to stop being so tight with anxiety
All the goddamn time.
I want to read more books,
watch fewer screens.
I want to hike,
oh, I want to paint.
I want to light more candles
and take more deep breaths
and have more peaceful, and loving conversation.
I guess, what I’m saying, is that
I want to live.
I hope some of these thoughts may strike the part of yourself holding the light which finals stress seems to so often destroy.
I have faith that by sharing everything I know to be true, my wants, and dreams and silly little sentences, you’ll be able to see those things in yourself and value that light too.
Even though it’s one more challenge to face — I hope you will understand that you are so much more than the stress and hardships of today. You, my friends, are loved and deeply valued. Not because of your achievements, but because of the breath that flows through your lungs and the thoughts that run through your mind.
That is more than enough, and so are you.