I’ve come to associate the start of spring semester with the onset of chronic lethargy. Winter Break works its best at licking the wounds of fall semester, but four weeks of traveling or binge-watching never seem long enough to extinguish postpartum final exam malaise.
I am torn between the urge to better myself and the lack of energy required to do so. There’s no gentler way to put it: at this point in the academic year, I feel burnt out.
My previous spring semesters have set such a low standard that it’s hard to look up from here. I want to tell myself this semester will be different, but I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. Said semesters have ended in turmoil for various reasons, but the way my enthusiasm diminishes during these months always accelerates the process.
In my attempts at combatting the spring semester blues, I’ve tried to immerse myself in new clubs and volunteer experiences to mimic the breath of fresh air that is the first few weeks back on Grounds after a long summer. Thus, I end up with an influx of things to do and friends to talk to, but still can’t seem to muster up the same level of determination I maintain in the fall.
I’d hate to nitpick on the more mundane aspects of spring semester, but I can’t be the only one who feels venturing through bone-chilling weather amounts to a mental burden — it’s one thing to have to shield yourself from the fall breeze, but quite another to feel your toes go numb or to watch locks of your hair freeze to icicles. And what’s worse is stepping inside still doesn’t solve the problem, as it elicits the itching desire to curl up in bed with a warm cup of tea and sink farther away from reality.
So, like most things, reverting to a mindset for learning is easier said than done. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be as difficult as I perceive it to be. Though it may be in my nature to view this semester as a continuation of past woes, covering up my weaknesses in excuses and distractions, it would be healthier to instead perceive the next few months as a clean slate.
The beauty of a college education — especially one from the University — is that it forces you to never stop learning. We are paying for this knowledge, after all — both time-wise and money-wise — so it makes sense to capitalize on this opportunity.
Rather than running away from my responsibilities or counting down the days until finals are over, I need to slow it down. I need to take a moment each day to assure myself I am strong enough to face my academic challenges head on. Though the semester will inevitably be filled with ups and downs, the only way to brace myself for the low points is to ensure I’m fully suited up with confidence and an openness to possibility.
I can start by building up good habits early on, without yet worrying about the long-term consequences. Instead of spending syllabus week squandering away the time on my hands, I can start to get ahead on my readings — even if that means just skimming a page or two.
Vega’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.