It's finals season, and for many people that means long nights in the library and countless cups of coffee. Friends begin to move-out and suitcase are sprawled across dorm room floors. Stress mixed with sadness lingers in the air, as tearful goodbyes and "see you next years" are exchanged. Throughout these crammed study sessions, Starbucks runs, and goodbyes; it can be easy to accumulate the stress of others.
During the last few weeks of school, if I'm not constantly moving at 800 mph I begin to feel like I'm not doing enough. If there is a night where I don't need to stay up until 1 a.m. studying, I feel as if I have not prepared myself enough. If there is an evening where I want to be alone, I feel guilty because I know that soon I won't be able to spend time with my friends. There is never a time I'm not comparing myself to others. Is my roommate stressed and complaining about a ton of school work? Then I should be too. Is my friend studying in the library? I need to join her.
Over the past few days, I finished up most of my exams and essays. I am only a short group presentation away from the freedom of summer, and I have worked unbelievably hard this semester to get myself in a good position for grades. However, I still find myself running around constantly. Packing, cleaning, going to the gym, preparing for my presentation, writing this article - anything to keep myself as busy as my peers.
But something important I need to keep reminding myself is that I am my own person. My majors have their own unique challenges, and just because finals week isn't as crazy for me as everyone else does not mean I am less than science majors who pull all-nighters studying.
I don't have to be busy to be important.
This is super important to realize, not just during finals week, but all the time. College culture is highly competitive, and everyone is struggling over the next internship, leadership position, good grade, etc. It is impossible not to compare yourself to others, but this can be an extremely toxic behavior. If I'm not stressed and busy like everyone else appears to be, I don't feel like I'm doing enough.
Even though, realistically, I know that I am. I have the grades, involvement, and internships that matter to me. My friends want to spend time with me, not because they admire how busy I am, but because they enjoy my company as a unique individual. I am funny and adventurous and really good at having deep conversations, and yes, sometimes I am busy. But being busy does not need to become my entire identity.
Sometimes it's necessary to take a step back, especially during finals, and remember: your schedule can define what you are doing but not who you are.