Every year of my university career, I always feel like I’m nearing the edge of nervous breakdown by the end of first semester. Try as I might to stay calm and focused, new jobs, heavier-than-expected courses, and an unpredictable circle of family and friends seem determined to not let that happen.
This year was no exception.
Yet on the cusp of second semester, those pangs of anxiety seem almost nonexistent. I know that my course load will be just as heavy, if not more so, work will be just as stressful, and my friends, family, and coworkers are not going to get less crazy now that it’s January.
Then why am I so much more relaxed going into the second half of the school year, knowing what awaits me once it’s in full swing? Am I burnt out and have just given up? Or, do I have a renewed sense of confidence in my own abilities to make it through whatever second semester throws at me, knowing that I made it through first semester’s challenges?
I’d like to believe it’s the latter, but the more cynical part of me worries that I’m just turning into a slacker now that second semester is here. Ideally, the holidays should leave students refreshed and ready to go for the second round of balancing school, work and everything in between. Yet I find every December break, the grand plans I make for quality rest and relaxation seem to go down the drain with work related projects, holiday errands, or worst of all, assignments expected to be completed over the holidays. This doesn’t exactly make me keen to hop back into my studies again after my break is over.
Being back at the University of Manitoba Wednesday, it was hard not to drag my feet a bit, and I doubt that I was half as productive as I like to be. Looking around campus, most students didn’t seem much more energetic than I, so professors excited to see students refreshed and eager to start a new semester should probably lower their expectations. Unlike the first week of September, it’s hard to expect students to waltz back onto campus after a measly two-week winter vacation with the same bright and shiny attitude they come with after four months of summer.
Despite the whining about having to come back to campus after a virtually non-existent holiday, second semester does always seem a little bit easier for me. When I look back on the extra assignments and pressing deadlines that sent me into crisis mode a few months back, I realize that while it may have been overwhelming at the time, I got through it, and it probably didn’t warrant the panic it caused me. After surviving the insanity the first few months of school, by this time of year, life doesn’t feel quite so insane.
Then again, maybe ask me how self-assured I’m feeling two months from now.