Stress Versus Boredom: It Feels Like Everything is Happening All at Once, and Then … Nothing.
It’s good to keep busy, it makes a person feel alive and engaged. Hopping from one place to the other, sending emails, keeping up with hobbies, writing essay proposals and the final product, hopefully there’s some room left for resting, hanging out with friends, and simply doing nothing. For me, it feels like everything happens all at once (to quote Bo Burnham: “what the fuck is going on?”) and there’s barely any time in between. Then, after a block of a school year is over and all the essays are handed in, there’s a moment of relief. And then there’s nothing for a while. At least, that’s what it usually feels like. When I feel like I can’t escape the stress and busy things in life, I long for that boredom, the quiet time when I don’t have as many obligations anymore. However, when achieved, that peace and quiet quickly turns into a want for a constant distraction, like work and events to keep me busy. It seems most of us are never really satisfied, and rarely able to take a real break.
The boredom that hits can be great; that’s what I imagine during the stressful times. When this busy period is finally over, I can catch up with all my favorite TV shows, read more, and do lots of fun things. Somehow that is never the reality. Doing things just isn’t as fun when you have all the time to do it. That’s probably why I miraculously find another sitcom to (re-)watch every exam period.
Despite bingeing New Girl a day before a deadline, I somehow still manage to hand in the assignment and pass the course. Hopefully this is somewhat of a reminder for some of you that not everything takes as much time as it seems beforehand. I don’t mean to say that procrastinating is good and you should leave everything to the last minute, but the scary things on your to-do list may not be so scary after all. Taking little to no time to rest and have fun isn’t a great option either, even if it means you’ll know all the readings for the class by heart. It is not worth it if you’re sitting in class with four hours of sleep because you had ten more pages of a piece about colonization, movie tropes, or even biology.
You may feel like you are the only one experiencing stress, but that is far from the truth. The thing is that some others just seem better at hiding that, but in reality, almost everyone stresses about deadlines, presentations, and other pressures. Plus, even teachers, actually, especially teachers, know what students are going through. The professors, teachers, and TA’s have been in the education system for a long, long time, and know better than almost anyone what the pressure is like to have a great load of schoolwork, beside being a full-time student in a vibrant student city like Groningen. Even though that doesn’t stop them from assigning a couple thirty page readings for class. They want, above all, for you to pass and enjoy the course, and learn something!
If you notice that your mental health is suffering from the schoolwork, don’t be afraid to tell someone, like a teacher or the study advisor. It may not always seem like it, but there are always people to help you, whether that is the university, student organizations, or even fellow students. Even though everything may seem to be happening all at once, when the year is over, you’ll have that boredom you have waited for so long. Try to enjoy it.