Stress, Perspective and Skjalg turns 30
December 12, 2012 § 6 Comments
I can’t imagine a time in my life that I ever felt as frustrated, stressed, and panicky as I do now. I am constantly, and I mean constantly, reassuring myself that everything is going to be ok and that I am going to be fine, that I have studied enough during the semester and that I will survive finals. No matter how many times I tell myself this, I don’t believe it when I say it.
If anything, I am more aware than ever of how big of a perfectionist I am. The amount of knowledge that I believe our professors expect us to have and what they actually expect are two completely different things. The worst part is that I don’t know where to stop. I don’t know how much detail is too much detail – and it is driving me crazy. If you don’t know the basics, you will fail. Our teacher even told us that when he examines people who don’t know a basic point, he fails them immediately. He told us that there is no point in examining a person any further when he/she doesn’t know the basics of the subject.
This is where I struggle. My brain won’t let me be satisfied with getting the basics down and then adding on when I have time. My books are my worst enemy because they go into much more detail than we are expected to know this semester and I can’t stop! It’s almost like I won’t be satisfied until I go down to the cellular level – which is totally unnecessary and requires a lot more education than I have at this point.
We just finished the last week of the semester. I can’t believe how fast time has flown by. I find myself constantly evaluating how I could have done this semester better – hindsight is 20/20, right? At the same time, isn’t it the challenge, evaluation, and subsequent evolution of self that matter most? Yes, I could have done the semester better, but I didn’t know that then. You never know it then. You always know it after. This way, the next time a similar experience rolls around, you know how to tackle it. I’m rambling, I know…let’s blame it on the coffee.
Charlotte wrote a great post introducing St. Steffan to the blogosphere. We met Steffan for the first time last week while studying at Costa Coffee. (He is a Norwegian student currently doing his 4th year in Rome, Italy, back in Budapest to take his pharmacology exam). In the span of an hour, he brought us out of our pre-final sorrows and relit the lights at the end of our tunnels. We ran into him a second time – Skjalg in tow – and he took time out of his day to enlighten us again. There is an unbelievable amount of negativity bombarding us each day about school, exams, our professors, and the city – pretty much everything. It makes it hard to keep a positive outlook when so many of your interactions throughout the day are far from positive. Without perspective, it is an almost impossible task to remain positive – and Steffan gave us just that: perspective.
One of the most memorable things he said – something that I need to remind myself of in this very moment – was along the lines of the following:
The first two years are hell – the third year is too, but at least then you have the respect of the teachers. During the first two years you are being trained. You are being trained to absorb massive amounts of information, to think critically, and to survive a stressful environment. Just keep going. Once you’ve made it into the third year, things will be a lot different. You will not believe how much you have evolved at that point. The teachers will respond to you differently, you will have earned their respect through your persistence. Everything you are going through now, and will continue to go through these next two years, is worth it. So just keep on pushing through.
So, we just have to keep pushing through. We are changing every day, with each challenge we face and each task we complete. It is to be expected that we experience “pain” in this process. It’s more bearable to stomach the stress when you are told that it is all worth it, by someone who can say so from personal experience.
On a lighter note, Skjalg turned 30 yesterday!! I stayed up late Monday night to make him a cake. When I asked what kind he wanted he said “something fresh” so I made a lemon cake with lemon filling and coconut frosting. It is a tradition in my family for everyone in the house – humans and animals include – to wake the birthday person with cake, presents, balloons and music. This year it was just me, so it wasn’t AS exciting, but I think he was happy nonetheless. He got his present early – an iPad (a group present from his mom, dad, sister, grandparents, and I). For breakfast I made Norwegian pancakes. We will be celebrating in full on Saturday night when we go out to dinner with a group of our friends to Sir Lancelot (a medieval times themed restaurant).