If you’re in college, finals are just around the corner. The week and a half or so wherein all of us become labor-intensive zombies, freaking out about information we will have forgotten by next month and deleting our facebook profiles until it’s all over. Every semester goes like this with only slight variations, whether you’re in pre-med or fine arts.
That being said, I’ve got to add a note for all studiers out there, who are probably only reading this out of reasons of procrastination. I can accept that. And the note is this: I’m proud of my best friend.
My close friend, or CF as he will be known from here on in, is the kind of person who always has something to do. He’s got school, multiple jobs, friends, hobbies, and life for him sometimes seems to the outside viewer like a complex juggling act. Occasionally he’s so bogged down with work that he disappears from the face of the earth, and cannot be reached by phone, email, or smoke signals.
I’m sure this scenario sounds familiar to some of you. You know who you are. But honestly, I think we all get that way sometimes. I spent the last two weeks in a similar state.
At some point last month, as CF was studying for a Big College Test and was neck-deep in his time of vanishing from the planet, he found the time to tell me a story. There’s no point in repeating it, the story’s not important. The main thing is the conclusion he came to.
He was having a conversation with me, a friend, nay, a human being, instead of studying at this particular moment. Because, as he said as story-coda:
“People are still more important than a test.”
It’s insane how often we forget that. I spent all of high school forgetting that. Some people still forget that, I’m sure (evil eyes where appropriate). Most of school time, and especially when finals roll around, we bury ourselves so deep into our books and our work and our facts, facts, figures, that when we finally emerge into the blinding sun of vacation, we don’t know how to function. We have come back into society after a long prison sentence. Like Tarzan back in Victorian England after years in the Congo. Like the Count of Monte Cristo back from the Chateau D’If. Like…you get it.So it’s that much harder to remember the world outside the four walls of final exams when you’re smack in the middle of them. That’s when moments like these arise:
I imagine CF had a similar thought process during his moment of epiphany, though that’s probably not true at all. CF, excuse the cartoon. It’s illustrating my point if not your experience.
So you've taken your Big College Test. Now what? Your trial is over, but someone else is still in the thick of it. In my case, the thick of it is not so much a ten-page exam of Scantron questions, but more a several-poster-series of artwork. While economics majors have their nervous breakdowns and collapse snoring onto their textbooks, we art students reach the crash point in an entirely different way:At this point, any and all movement is futile.
The studio is cold and damp. Once your studio-mate leaves, you are the only person with the keys to this place. You are utterly isolated in a cage of your Senior Project. If you overdosed on turpentine stench, no one would think to look for you for weeks. It’s a terrifying horror zone of alone, alone, alone and covered in cardstock shavings and paper cement.
Someone is making contact! Someone remembers your existence! If you overdosed on terps now, someone would find you before the campus opossums did! You are rejuvenated...
...And you can work again. Because with one word, someone reminded you that yes, this too shall pass. And yes, someday you will be on vacation, and then you can get back to having a life with the rest of your friends.
And so to everyone who finds themselves neck-deep in responsibility, best of luck. You’ll get out of it soon enough. And if you do horribly on those tests, that’s okay too. I can almost guarantee you won’t be thinking about that when you tell your grandkids your boring life story.
It’s still the people that count. Please remember that, and don’t lose sight of the fact we so often forget: a test is a piece of paper that counts for some things. But not everything. A test is not life. It’s still the people that count. And to whoever over the course of the past two weeks was on the sending end of such a rejuvenating text message (yes, that was me lying on the studio floor), thank you. You never know when the tiniest word of greeting will make a miserable, overworked student’s day.
See you on the other side. Good luck on finals, everybody!