“It’s a beautiful day to be happy and healthy”
This exam season has brought with it the expected panic and some unexpected beautiful weather. In the lead up to one of my exams, I sat outside and attempted to eat some lunch even though I’m normally too nervous to manage anything. And then, a text pinged through bringing with it the exact reality check I desperately needed. “Its a beautiful day to be happy and healthy”, it read, “so do your best and then go enjoy the sunshine. These next 2 hours won’t define the rest of your life”. I then cried (obviously, such a Pisces) and pulled myself together. The exam wasn’t a complete disaster and the sunshine lasted until I was back in Selly Oak and able to enjoy it a little.
After a solid 17 years in education, I know that I will always take exams and assessments deadly seriously and that the sense of overwhelming panic won’t ever disappear. Finals also mark the first time in my academic career that I’ve actively sought help for my anxiety – and now I’m wondering why I haven’t been doing this from the very start. The lovely support hasn’t stopped the exams themselves causing anxiety but the whole experience has suddenly become much more manageable. Really, Fresher Soph, tell someone sooner!
Une petite pause
My exam timetable gave me an unexpected break – a fortnight in-between my penultimate and ultimate exams, meaning that after a few incredibly intense weeks I then could return home and start to feel more like myself again. I walked the dog (for fun!) and actually enjoyed myself, rather than merely using the Labrador as an excuse to avoid work. I made a feeble attempt at reclaiming my pre-finals body – a face mask or two, shaving my gorilla-like legs, painting my nails – the little self care routines I’ve been very good at avoiding since April. Despite waxing lyrical on #selflove and making sure we look after ourselves during times of stress, I’ve been spectacularly bad at practising what I preach. I had joked that post-finals I needed to find my personality again and I’m starting to worry this is increasingly true!
And, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I read a book. Except I didn’t just read a book – I devoured one. In a day, I delved into the fictional world of Gail Honeyman and Eleanor Oliphant and rediscovered my pleasure for reading. Of course, I’ve studied countless texts throughout my degree but there’s a huge chasm between reading for a seminar, hectic highlighting with the odd SparkNotes research, and truly devoting a whole day to a good book. I might actually write a book review if life post-finals becomes too quiet…
Eat the head first, You Monster!
There’s a fair few things I believed when I was younger which have stuck with me. My older sister, evil genius at an early age, once told me that there was a certain way to eat a gingerbread man. She explained that you had to break the head off first or the poor little delicious men felt pain – so, snapping the neck was the most humane way to eat one of them. I was small and very gullible, and this information was a terrifying revelation. I winced whenever I witnessed someone eating a gingerbread man without this technique. I do, in fact, still eat my gingerbread men in the same fashion.* I’m not a fool and yet this behaviour is still present. She also once ‘sold’ me half her rabbit and used to merrily play hairdresser cutting my hair so it’s safe to say the gingerbread man behaviour isn’t the worst to persist.
(*Before any judgement, gingerbread is delicious. 22 is a perfectly respectable age to enjoy it.)
I mention gingerbread men decapitation techniques because I’m realising that a lot of my ideas of university and life beyond it haven’t really changed since I was little. I keep expecting to wake up one day and discover the perfect career – because people just know what they want to do, don’t they? It doesn’t matter that I know most people job hunt for a while after graduation – it still feels like I should have a better idea by now of my dream career. My original plan to be a princess has just been stolen by Meghan, and as I watched their blooming beautiful wedding day, I promised myself two things: Firstly, I reckon that’s the level of wedding-fuss I’d like. Not sure on who’s paying though. Secondly, if I couldn’t be a princess, I’d better focus on my other childhood dream; writing. So, any tips?
Is this the end?
Short answer: Yes. I’ll soon no longer be enjoying my student discount and instead be tackling the real world on a job hunt, hopefully ignoring the looming debt I’m bringing with me. Suddenly there’s lots of ‘life’ questions I don’t know the answer to and I don’t quite know where the required energy will come from. Perhaps dispelling the myth that graduates must get onto a graduate scheme in order to be successful could be a future post?
This blog post has been written in anticipation of my last exam because, quite honestly, I don’t plan to be furiously typing on my laptop for the first couple of days post-finals. I haven’t yet decided what I’ll write after my exams because I’m so used to thinking of posts relevant to my life and, after this weekend, I’m not quite sure what that will look like. A job hunt, a holiday, a final trip down the motorway with a car piled high with clothes I never wore… and that’s as far as I’ve planned. Lots of sleeping too, I’m sure. One thing is for certain; I might not know what, but I know why. I love writing. So, consider this blog open to suggestions. It’s quite simply my favourite thing to do.