I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. I’ve read my fair share of Runner’s World, and I know that one day I’ll actually run one. They talk about a wall that people often reach near the end of the race. Around Mile 20. Close to the finish line, but not close enough to see it.
Each quarter, I reach a wall like this. I think a lot of us do. Not just students, but everyone, at least sometimes. A point when you feel so tired that you can’t sleep (quick: name the song!) And when you do sleep, you wake up feeling tired, not refreshed. A point when you have so much to do, but your mind feels like a blank slate because you can’t remember much of it. When you get those headaches that make you feel like your head is full of sand, swishing around whenever you move your head. When you want to wave a white flag, but you want to achieve your goals so badly that you don’t. When you procrastinate doing work by doing other work. When you’re so stressed that your mind just checks out. You don’t worry, you don’t freak out. It’s just blank.
It’s challenging, but none of us talk about it. We’re afraid to be told we’re complaining. Or worse, having our own list of obligations being compared to someone else’s. That’s the worst, because you know that your problems aren’t as bad as they could be. But this doesn’t mean they don’t matter.
We are told to “relax” or to “give something up” or to “prioritize,” but the joy, the sense of achievement that we get from fulfilling our many obligations feels worth it when it happens.
We are afraid of not being busy enough. Of not making the most of college. Of not taking advantage of every opportunity that comes our way.
Something has to go. Usually it’s watching TV. Then going out on the weekends. Harmless things. But eventually you realize you haven’t made an inside joke with friends, or that you haven’t called your parents, in a long time.
We hope to reach this wall right as final exams approach. That way, it doesn’t last long. We can see the finish line. But there’s no predicting when it will happen. For me, it tends to happen near Mile 20. When you can’t yet see the finish line, but you know it is there. When you’ve already made a commitment to finishing this race, and you know that you’ll finish it but that it will be so, so hard. That’s where I’m at right now.
And I’m trying to push through it. Listening to music helps. I like Mary Lambert and holiday songs. So do pictures of Daisy. And Pinterest. And hot drinks. I try to treat myself to these things as much as I can. I have a list of “Good Things” in my planner that I can refer to whenever I need a pick-me-up. It’s not a perfect solution, but it helps.
So let’s push through this wall. Let’s run through it. Or walk. But let’s get through it.