The Folly of the End of Semester Blues
Guest post by Teresa
I’m certain right about now you’re winding down from fervently studying for midterms, and wondering about the approaching end of this Spring semester.
You’ve probably overheard some classmates discussing summer plans filled with travel, engaging work opportunities, or even planning out their summer semester.
I have been in the midst of these conversations of accomplishments, feeling as if I were an omniscient narrator, creating the emotions and not participating in the action. And then she became conscious of the fact that her abilities were under the blinding glare of the Sun— Phoebus in his chariot withered her down.
I have sat amongst my accomplished peers and felt the weight of comparison upon my shoulders. The promising medical students and their MSATs, the STEM majors and their straight A’s, the Honours students and their luscious prose.
It is so easy to dismiss these notions of comparison as jealousy or spite; as something that is truly telling of your weakness of character. However, I suggest that it isn’t so easily reducible to this degree of simplicity.
Universities cultivate highly competitive and ambitious atmospheres that inherently advocate for self-improvement. Through merit, one rises to achieve what the world has to offer. After all, isn’t that what we are paying this institution for? An all-encompassing education?
But in this pursuit of advancement, we tend to look around at each other and suggest to ourselves that what we are doing isn’t good enough because others are doing more, and they are doing it better than you.
I recently fell victim to this habit of thought. It made me rethink my entire future, my major, and my prospective career. It made me feel as if I was never going to amount to anything of significance. I felt as if my passions in life weren’t going to get me anywhere because I wasn’t on the level of others’ achievements.
I know that I am not unique in my struggle with this comparison game. But I am here to tell you that you do not need to be in it any longer.
Comparison in its very nature doesn’t have to be as toxic as it can be in its extremes. Most often, comparing yourselves with others can inspire change for yourself or for your loved ones. It can inspire you to quit bad habits and start anew or evoke a sense of belonging. Most definitely, it can build you up, if you approach it in a proper manner.
Going through the motions of this cycle, I have devised a few tips and that will help you get out of this comparison merry go round, and get you rooted back into the swing of things:
1. Make a list of your best qualities within work, social life, and school. What virtues make you, you?
2. Outline your goals for your degree. What do you enjoy about what you are studying? What skills are you obtaining? What do you hope to learn?
3. Outline what courses you have to take in the future via your CAPP report on the Uvic website. How many semesters do you have left? Do you need to reduce/increase your course load?
4. Make an appointment with either a Career Counsellor, Academic Advisor, or Co-op Coordinator. They are equipped to help you with any questions and to advise and give direction when necessary.
5. Look into a Co-op term or a Work-Study position on campus via the UVic website. Ask a favourite professor or supervisor about opportunities in your department or community!
6. Look within your network of peers, family, or coworkers for a foot in the door. What options have you not tried out that they might be willing to offer you?
7. Take a moment to assess your planning and devise what you like and dislike about certain options. If needed, try out other untried options.
The exigency of this post is to demonstrate that students, most especially as they advance through their degree, increasingly find themselves comparing their progress and worth within the context of others.
I suggest that although this cycle is common because of the competitive edge with which we all study under, it can enable us to lose a sense of purpose. Even the highest achieving, seemingly well-rounded students are also going through the same difficulties of comparison.
I hope that through this guidance, you readers seek to fully develop your sense of self within your own context, ideals, and progression.
We are all worthy and accomplished in some aspect of our lives. Maybe coming to UVic you have finally moved out of your parents’ home and are learning to live with others. Maybe you found your true passion for what you are studying and have decided your path. Or maybe, like me, you’ve found amazing friends and family here that actively make you feel as if you’ve made it. And as she looked upon the day, Phoebus’s ray, gladly made her want to stay.
Thanks for reading,
Thanks to the Student Mental Health blog for permission to repost.