11:00 pm already? This is what I think when I look at the clock and realize I still have so much to do. The week before finals week is always the worst. Professors realize the year is coming to an end and decide to slap us with a project or two or a paper or three. And the last two weeks are our time to prove our worth. I imagine myself the gladiator fighting an opponent—another gladiator, a lion, a Cyclops—and there are thousand people watching me in this old coliseum, cheering for me to die. Well, I am no Russell Crowe. I am sure to die.
This week’s word of the day: Survivor
And when I think of this word, jolts of Destiny Child’s Survivor music video play through my head. I think, that is me. I am the one fighting for my survival.
Then as the brain begins to seep back, reality rather than fantasy takes over. It is quiet in my suite in Myles, because we’re all doing it—we’re all studying and writing and cutting and pasting and crying. All you can think about is the solid piles of shtuff you need to do.
We all have our own means of dealing with this final two weeks. There’s one I like to call the whine and cry. Overwhelmed with work, this crying is the heaviness of emotion that has resulted as a backlash to the mental headache. I may have experienced this a time or two, and I believe you have too. Another method is the cursing sailor. This is a favorite of mine, mainly because it is kind of funny. This is a classic reaction to the intense amounts of work—and essentially, the student won’t stop cursing until the work is done. And of course we have the over-achievers, although stressed, will get their work done with the ease and grace that was deemed to them by the Academia gods. There are also those people who ignore the work and decide to check out early of “The Study Hotel” and over zealously welcome the summer break.
And as disturbing as this mental image may be, my method of dealing is always a little combination of the whine and cry and the cursing sailor. How perfectly charming of me.
It wasn’t until earlier this week, that I understood the full extend of my ridiculousness. During midterm and final week, my friends and I like to joke about dying. That if we just got hit by a car or accidentally fell out of the nine story suite of our dorm, we wouldn’t have to go through all of this studying.
But here was my revelation.
I was walking in front of Marsh Chapel earlier this week, and they were reading off names of the people who died during the holocaust. I thought of this book I was reading for class called Under a Cruel Star by Heda Margolius Kovaly. Kovaly writes this autobiographical book about her journey through life under the reigns of both Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Spoiler Alert: She ends up escaping—yes, I said escaping—from Auschwitz, from one of the death marches. Completely beaten and alone, she barely finds refuge with an old friend in which she is forced to leave considering warfare circumstances. Never to be reunited with her family—for she has lost them to the brutality of the concentration camp—she is now alone.
Later, she fortuitously found an old lover who, too, had escaped the same deadly fate. They fell in love, again; they remarried. But yet this story does not end happily ever after—reality rarely does. After all she has been through, the Russian secret police under Stalin arrests her husband, and then he is tried and publicly executed.
And reading this book, and hearing those names… I just felt awful and self-centered. Here I am preaching survival and I don’t even know the beginning of it. That word is absolutely unfathomable to me. The amount of suffering that I am going through in contrast to the suffering that Heda went through is incomparable. She had to suffer in concentration camps, and bravely escaped. She lost everything and everyone. Let’s just put the “I Suck” hat on my head.
And Kovaly writes, “People often ask me: ‘How did you manage to survive the camps? To escape! Everyone assumes it is easy to die but that the struggle to live requires a superhuman effort. Mostly, it is the other way around. There is, perhaps, nothing harder than waiting passively for death. Staying alive is simple and natural and does not require any particular resolve.”
These words spoke to me. They’re gritty and real, and they sum up the feeling and empowerment that uplifts the soul. These two weeks, although brutal, is just the life of a girl privileged to be studying in a University. The survival rate for these next two weeks is a guaranteed 100%. And my heart goes out to people in other situations where this isn’t the case.
Although, I still can’t help the fact that I love Destiny’s Child. Meh I’m a girl of the 90s.
Keep it real, stay focused, be positive.
Good luck on your finals, you will be free soon.
Can you dig it? I sure do.
Jackie Q. over and out.