Pillbox

Advice for Awkward People

Dear Izzy,

Do you ever have that existential feeling of dread and expectation of failure even before giving yourself a little bit of faith? Well that’s how I feel about my midterm. I just did so poorly on all my tests last semester (thankfully everything else just pulled up my grade) that I’m just worried I’m gonna fall into the same cycle. I’m worried that I won’t have enough time in the week to actually study effectively because of all my other classes, and that if I do have free time, procrastination will get the better of me and I will end up shamefully (or shamelessly, depending on my mood) watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians instead. I would ask for help or study with groups, but I feel like I’d just end up flopping like a fish in terms of my grasp on the material, because I’m so behind. Is there anything that you recommend I should do?

Desperate On Options Making Exam prep Decent

Dear DOOMED,

As much as people hate to admit it, procrastination is something that everyone will struggle with so don’t be ashamed of that. The TV show choice though is a tough call, but this is also coming from someone who worships Riverdale and its aesthetic in secrecy. But that’s beside the point.

One of the best ways to combat wasting your free time can be, ironically, planning it out. Identify when you’re free during the day: do you have a substantial amount of time in between two classes? Is there an adequate amount of time you have between two meetings? What time do you get home every night? Once you’ve gathered all those hours together, schedule out when you’ll do certain assignments. Be a fair judge on how much time you think you’ll take, and keep the schedule next to you while you’re doing work. And then — this is the most important — follow it. There will be distractions, but for the most part stay focused and on track. If you don’t finish something in the time frame you set for yourself, just stop and move on.

Secondly, office hours are there for the people in that floppy fish mood. At some point, maybe even the teaching assistants (TAs) of your class felt that way too. They will totally be open to you and your problems; that’s what TAs are there for, and the last thing they would want is having your insecurities and fears overtake your desire to understand and learn more. Your study group members will be like that too; heck, they might even learn a bit from you after your understanding of the concept clicks around them.

Finally, don’t forget to take a mental break once in a while and put it in your schedule. Get a healthy amount of sleep — it will do more for your concentration, mood, and brain than you think it will. It will give you time to process the material, focus on something else, and come back with a fresh perspective and energy to take on a challenge. Take care of yourself, eat some comfort food, or do something that you love. Or at the very least, watch something a little better on Netflix. You can study, attend office hours, and schedule all you want, but you'll do a lot better if you let your brain relax a little bit and maintain a healthy balance of work and leisure.

Best,
Izzy