When I get stressed out, I start thinking funny things. Like my dad would say though, ‘it’s not so much funny-ha-ha, more like funny-peculiar’. Aside from having a way with words unique to the Irish; my dad is right. If he’s reading this (and he probably is) he should copy the link to this article somewhere too, because I’d rarely admit such a thing in writing.
So, at times like this, with the great beast that is exams looming on the horizon, it’s no surprise that I’m getting stressed. The beast has already decided to flex its muscles at me a few times, throwing a few live grenades my way in the form of an essay, a report, an exam, or some other explosive piece of artillery from its academic arsenal.
After enough rounds of this artillery go off around me, my thinking starts to go peculiar. Like a shellshocked soldier I sometimes feel like deserting my post by retreating into my room or into some fantasy like a series or a movie. Through this, I try to give myself a break and escape the horror of exams. Occasionally though, this goes too far and I end up doing more harm than good
With the great beast that is exams looming on the horizon, it’s no surprise that I’m getting stressed
At other moments, I become a little paranoid. I start thinking that someone is out to get me, trying to mess me over in some sly and sneaky way. ‘That sample paper is a trap; the exam is nothing like this at all’, said a little voice in my ear recently. At times, this can become pretty noisy, but I always try to look at the evidence, and these thoughts are always wrong. There’s a comfort in that.
Recently, as part of my master’s in clinical psychology, we learned about a thing called ACT. It stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I’ll spare you the finer details (of which there are many) and tell you that the basic message of ACT is something like this: you can create a meaningful life while accepting that pain and suffering are inevitable.
This seems obvious, but it’s quite radical. Sure, exams make me feel terrible, but what about my goals, dreams, and the things I want in life? Pain and suffering are inevitable and I’m making that work for me by coming here to do this degree. The pain will pass, but the things I achieve will stay with me forever.
Ride the wave.