Today after distributing a weekly quiz, our professor dived into talking about meta-evaluations and addressing questions that we had asked in our required weekly discussion board.
Shortly after she started, the professor stopped.
"Boy, you guys look tired." She reflected.
Perhaps our eyes glazed over when we heard the word "meta-evaluation" or maybe we really were just sitting there exhausted with little motivation, but it was probably a combination of the two.
It's that time of year. The time of year where the mid-semester slump takes effect and everyone becomes a sort of corpse of their former selves.
The work keeps coming down in drifts like the snow that will soon be falling. If we don't have a busy week at the moment we know that there is a list of assignments staring us down in the future. We could get started on those, but instead, we choose to distract ourselves with Netflix or sleep or other procrastination tools.
Some critics of this slump may make the argument that we just had daylight savings time and gained an hour in our day that we can use to be more productive. But while we gained an hour, we lost an hour of sunlight.
It's not easy staying motivated to do work when at 6:30 p.m. it feels like it is midnight.
Along with a lack of sunlight, it is getting colder. This makes it more enticing to be wrapped up in bed than walking to the library to do homework for the day when the walk to the library is frigid and the temperature in the library can be equally volatile.
All of this results to students walking around campus trying to keep themselves composed, a smile plastered on their face to disguise the worry and stress and preoccupation that is filling their heads.
On my campus, a common catchphrase you'll hear is: "It's fine. Everything is fine."
But it's not really fine on the inside.
Our stamina and endurance is drained. We can try to think about the holidays and going home to our families, but winter break isn't for another 6 weeks and although we can get a smidge of a break during Thanksgiving, those precious days won't be free of homework.
Our professors look at us and think we are just sleep deprived but they don't know half of what's going on. It's more than the lack of sleep and the heap of work for their class.
It's the heaps of work that we have for our other classes, the extraneous drama going on amongst friends, anxiety of getting together with family over the holidays, planning for the next semester of classes, the lack of sleep, regular errands like feeding ourselves and doing laundry, and so many other variables that vary person to person.
This is the slump before we go into hibernation.
At the moment we're still trying to be social, to find time to spend with our friends, to build the façade that we are functioning humans. But soon enough we'll be in the hibernation of finals.
For those two weeks everyone is burrowed into the work that they have and then they just want to hightail it off of campus. Socializing is not high on most people's priority lists. It's a constant cycle of sleeping, studying, eating, studying, and sleeping. Or if you're like some of my friends, you begin to consider eating and sleeping a luxury and the whole focus becomes studying.
It sounds horrific and that is because it is. It is also unhealthy the amount of stress that we build up and our energy supply is literally just adrenaline. But we'll grit through it.
Until then, professors, family, work colleagues, bosses, and friends, it's unlikely to see a smile of genuine joy on a student's face for a bit and we'll be stressed, and fatigued and a bit out of it. So please accept us as we are.
Give us words of encouragement, a supportive hug, food, but also space and we'll be all right. For most of us, this is not our first time going through this slump of the fall semester and we know we'll make it through. Just try to be gentle with us all and you'll see us back to our normal selves shortly.