It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But for Columbia students, it’s also the most stressful time of the year. Finals are upon us, and may PrezBo have mercy on our souls.
In the spirit of the season, and with sanity in mind, we should all be able to agree: It’s time to replace competition with compassion.
Stress affects all of us, and ignoring it or suppressing it contributes to a Columbia climate not conducive to mental health. But while there are constructive ways to talk about stress, there are also destructive ways to do so.
Everyone on this campus has, at one time or another, played the “stress game” in casual encounters on campus. (Some might also call it “humblebragging.”) “I have finals in the next two days!” might be met with the response, “Oh, that’s nothing, I have a 600-page paper due in an hour!”
At a fundamental level, this sort of conversation is irritating and impersonal. It also makes the fog of work and stress at Columbia seem dense and impenetrable. Worst of all, it prioritizes self-aggrandizement over actually finding assistance, comfort, and support. It’s a uniquely selfish method of commiseration.
Let’s work not to increase stress, but to decrease it when possible. Give your friends and peers the benefit of the doubt this week—they have just as much work as you do. Being thoughtful and considerate goes a long way toward making everyone feel more comfortable and less stressed.
We know the temptation to camp in Butler for 48 consecutive hours during finals, to spend every waking moment memorizing every word of your textbook, to breathe in nothing but the subject matter of your next test, can be overwhelming.
This practice is counterproductive. Taking time to take care of yourself, including, but not limited to, simple things like eating regularly and getting enough sleep will make you more efficient. Finals season at Columbia is that rare time of year when traditions abound—be it Orgo Night, Midnight Breakfast, or Primal Scream—and there are plenty of events where we can come together to blow off steam.
We realize that this is a sentiment often repeated around the holidays—everyone and their mother (especially your mother) will tell you to stay sane and not stress so much. That’s fine. That’s great. That’s not realistic.
We’re not advocating a no-stress policy—we’re advocating a no-unnecessary-stress policy. In fact, we sincerely hope you stress productively and get that studying done. What we’re asking for is campus-wide compassion for each other.
Forgive us for the following analogy, but: We’re not pirates, alone in open waters and fighting over the same chest of gold. We’re all in the same boat, and there’s enough treasure for all of us.
To respond to this staff editorial, or to submit an op-ed, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.