It is that time of year again. Perhaps "the most wonderful time of the year." BUT, there is one little roadblock in the way of letting you dive full force into your holiday spirit and enjoy your beloved break before second semester starts up. The dreadful week is upon us. The time has come. Grab your shields of armor and prepare for battle. Finals week.
The battle i'm speaking of though, is not one against your final exams, but the one against the pressure to be perfect. The pressure to not only pass, but excel at your exams. The pressure that this determines your entire future. The pressure that decides whether you are called a success or failure.
I propose this: no matter what happens this week with your exams, that you cannot earn the label of a "failure." That your worth is not determined by your grade point average. That your number one priority this week should not be your grades, but yourself.
WHAT? How can she possibly think that there is anything on this earth more important during finals week than finals?
Because my dear, YOU, and your health are far more important than any grade will ever be.
So here, are eight gentle whispers of love, to remind you this finals week what is truly most important.
1. Your grades mean very little if your mental health is at stake.
Are grades important? Absolutely. But are they the most important thing in this world, especially on finals week?
NO. absolutely not. And no, I am not delusional, or crazy for saying this. There are tons of things that grades are more important than, but one thing they are not and never will be more important than is your mental health.
You may be thinking "she just doesn't get it," but I am coming to you live as a stressed out college student on finals week, and I am mentally stable enough to tell you wholeheartedly that your mental health, is much more important than your final grades, especially on finals week.
Why? Because my friends what good is an A if you lost yourself along the way? What good is a degree if you lost your passion under the pressure? What good is a silly percentage if the beautiful, cherished, human being who earned it lost the sparkle in their eye and traded it in for their grade?
I'll tell you what, it's no good. No good at all. You can have the best grades in the world, but if you do not have good mental health those grades begin to mean very little in the grand scheme of things. You see darling, if you have six mental breakdowns, contemplate the meaning of life, forget to eat, lose sleep all in the span of a week, and do all this only in an unpromising attempt to raise your grade by 2%, WHAT good on earth is that 2% worth? Not a whole lot. But you know what is worth the world? YOU.
So go easy on yourself their tiger. Try your best. Study, go to the library, and stay up a little later than usual reading your textbook. But when you are faced with a choice between whats best for you and whats best for you grades if you choose YOU, you are choosing your grades, your future, your career too, because none of that can be, unless you yourself are at peace.
2. Present over perfect.
Say what? I know what you are thinking, "Okay Buddah, whatever you say. I did not click on this article to read about some whack hippy shit. Actually this article is just getting in the way of me studying for finals, when it's supposed to be helping me. This is a waste of time."
But wait, hear me out. Present over perfect. Really process that for a second. What does it mean, what would it look like, for one to be present rather than perfect? And is being present really better than being perfect?
The answer is, yes. Perfection is an unreachable goal. The truth is none of us will ever be perfect, despite how hard we may strive for this. I know when it comes to school, perfectionism is a not so uncommon quality to have. But breathe. Perfect is not possible. Trying to reach perfection is just causing unneeded anxiety that causes you to be distant from reality and instead live in an environment in your head that is extremely destructive.
So what good will being present do?
Honestly, a whole hell of a lot more than trying to be perfect will do. To be present is to simply stay in the moment. To be fully and authentically you in every moment. To give your full self, your full attention on whatever situation you are in. It is to live in the now, not the future anxieties or the past regrets.
Now, this is much easier said than done. But if you can recognize when you are not living in the present, and gently pull yourself back to the now, you will get so much more out of your day, your week, your month, and your life. There is so much beauty in the present, and if we are hyper-focused on the future or the past then we become blinded to all life's little gifts that it is trying to give us.
So how does this relate to finals? Take it one moment at a time. Take this week one minute at a time if you have to. There is no shame in that. Take this week at whatever pace works for you, but do not spend your time fretting, instead spend your time soaking in all the good in the present and putting your full self into it. If you put all of you into the moment, you will receive so many gifts in return. So try not to stress, take it one final at a time. Take it one flashcard at a time. And while you are studying, be all there. While you are on your lunch break, be all there. While you are spending time with friends, be all there. Wherever you are, wherever you go, be there, fully and truly there, and not only will you be happier and less stressed, but you may even catch a glimpse of the little things, that in reality, matter a lot more than your grades.
Deep breaths, stay present. I believe in you.
3. Your grades are not the be all end all.
I know it probably feels like they are. Like your whole future, your whole life depends on them. But that's not true.There is so much more to life than your grades. Your grades are worth a great deal, but your mental stability is worth far more. So do not push yourself to the point of a mental breakdown. Because if you get a B in that class you have worked so hard on, heck if you completely fail a class, that does not determine your future or your success.
What could be the be all end all however, is your health. You can not accomplish much of anything if you are not YOU because you have pushed yourself too hard. I promise you the world will not come crashing down if your grades do not turn out the way you had hoped. You can always try again, and you can always give yourself grace for how hard you have tried.
The bottom line is, grades aren't everything. But making sure you are happy, and stable, and managing your stress in healthy ways is. The world will not end no matter your grades, but your would could be drastically altered if you do not keep your mental health in check.
Put you first this week, and every week for that matter. This is not selfish, and this is not lazy, what it is, is necessary. You matter so much more than your grades, and realizing this is such a freeing thing to come to terms with.
4. You have to take care of YOU before you can take care of anyone else.
Chances are your future career involves people in some way or another. No matter what your job, you are going to impact the peoples lives you come into contact with. You want to succeed at your job, be the best you can be. But you can not be at your best and help others unless you yourself are taken care of.
And this, this goes beyond your future career. This goes for everyday as well. You cannot help others, you cannot take care of what you need to take care of, unless you help yourself first. You have to take time for you. Make sure your soul is filled up before you go pouring out everything you have into your school work and others, or you are going to find yourself empty, exhausted, and feeling helpless.
Your health matters. You matter. Take care of you. And then you will be better equipped to take care of all your passions, your people, and your dreams.
5. Your best IS good enough.
It may sound cliche, but doing your best is all anyone can ask of you. And if they ask for more, then they are trying to push you to live up to unrealistic standards and they are the one who needs to reevaluate.
I am not saying to use your mental health as an excuse to binge watch Netflix and totally ignore studying for your exams. But what I am saying is that if you put in your best effort AND take time to watch an episode of fuller house when your brain needs a break, this is okay. That is perfectly acceptable. And you are still trying your best at your finals, while taking care of yourself as well.
Your best is ENOUGH. It always has been, it always will be. You are enough. You are loved. You are worthy. You are important. You are smart. You are brave. And you are trying your best.
In case no one has told you today, or recently, or ever, I want to tell you this; I am so proud of you. You have worked so hard, and you have done the best you can do. And knowing and recognizing that is worth so much more than any grade. Because you my friend, are worth more than any grade. And when you realize this, it brings peace to your mind. A peace that is necessary for good mental health, and a peace you deserve.
6. Your worth is far too vast to be measured by a number.
Must I say anymore? Your worth is so great, so wide, so vast, that NO number on this earth could measure it. Not even the percentage of your final grade at the end of this semester. You see, because all it is is a number. A freaking number.
I know it is easy to take that number and give it all the power in the world. To let it determine your future, your self esteem, you hopes, your dreams, and your worth. But the truth is, it just is not worth that much.
But YOU, you are worth much more than any number will ever be able to describe.
You are not a number.
You are the way you love. You are your passions, your dreams, your efforts. You are a friend, a family member, a loved one. You are the only you in this entire world, and that makes you pretty damn special if you ask me. No number, not even a final grade, can take your worth away from you.
Repeat after me: "I am worth more than a number."
Say it over and over again if you have to. Write yourself a sticky note. Set an alarm on your phone. Whatever you have to do. Let all these things be a constant reminder to you that you are worth so much, no matter what your finals try to tell you.
7. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
There is far more to you than your ability to do well in school. You were created intricately and beautifully with many talents and many gifts to offer this world. Do not place all your value on one thing.
So maybe you are gifted at school. So maybe you are not. Either way, you have an abundance of other gifts whether you realize it or not.
Do not forget these. We are all gifted in different ways, and your gifts matter. This world needs the gifts that only YOU can bring.
8. You are loved. You are important. You are enough. And you are not alone.
Hear me loud and clear. I mean these things. No matter what grades you get, good, bad, average... no matter what has happened to you this semester in your social, emotional, mental, and physical realms, you are still so loved. You are important. This world needs you. I need you. You are enough. Just the way you are. You don't have to try to be any more than who you are at this exact second, because you are already worth the world even at your worst.
You are not alone. We are in this together. A week full of stress and turmoil, a week that wants to break us. But a week that we will not be broken by. A week that we are stronger than. Lean on your support systems, lean on those who love you. Let people love on you extra loud this week.It is perfectly fine to ask for extra love and support even. Its okay to not be okay, remember that. But know this, no matter how big this battle may feel, it is a battle you can win, and it is one you do not have to battle alone. I am right here with you, cheering you on. We got this.
One last thing before I go. If you get anything at all from this article, I want you to take away this; be gentle with yourself, especially this finals week. Take care of you, and everything else will fall into place. Do not be afraid to take that much needed nap, don't be afraid to take time to laugh with your best friend, and do not be afraid to order insomnia cookies to the library. Treat yo self my dear friend. And above all know that you are enough and you have every reason to be proud of yourself. So go easy on yourself, love yourself a little louder this week, - I know you usually pour all your love on others, but save a little for yourself this time. Deep breaths, and no matter what happens, you are still the same, lovable, cherished YOU that you were before finals week..