It’s that time of year again! The lights glimmer on every street corner. The kitchens burst with heavenly smells. The trees shelter a pile of wrapped presents ...
Yes, Christmas is coming soon, but I’m actually referring to the beloved final exams. Just when I am ready for winter break after a long semester, school puts a damper on the excitement with a load of weighty tests.
In my case, when the teacher suggested on the first day of class that studying a little bit every day would be a good idea, I casually scoffed at the remark and came home from school to do whatever pleased me that day.
All too soon, though, Christmas break is just around the corner, and along with it come some pretty big tests coming up that I haven’t studied one bit yet for.
One thing that I can’t stand, though, is failure. I’m a sore loser and I hate disappointing myself and others, so alas, the studying must begin. Fortunately, I’ve completed two tests already that were not cumulative (just testing over the last chapters covered), but the rest are. I now have to go back and try to reinvent my studying habits so that I can cover a semester’s worth of notes glaring up at me.
To put it mildly, this rarely works. First off, I am already sick of studying from my first two tests, and I dread the hours of staring at pages of notes that are still to come. It is just too much to expect anyone to be able to sit and study for hours when they are not used to it, and then to expect them to instantly remember all that they have crammed into their brains for the last several hours on the test is utterly impossible! Unless they happen to have a photographic memory. And to anyone who does; I am sorely jealous ...
Since most people do not enjoy and are not practiced at studying for hours on end, memorizing hundreds of notes, it burns them out quickly.
To me, this sounds eerily like some other things popular in the coming weeks, say maybe like New Year’s resolutions? I already hear radio stations chattering about the list of changes people wish to make to their lives that will instantly be implemented when January first strikes. Honestly, I am all for fixing up areas in my life where I am lacking, but it is the way that people go about it that doesn’t quite work out.
Typically, people will attack their resolutions with gusto the first couple weeks of January, and there are even those determined, driven people that stick with them all year (for whom I hold great respect), but the majority lose interest or get tired of the work all too quickly. And I’m sad to say that I have been one of those people.
The problem doesn’t lie in the resolution. I truly do think that everyone needs to examine their lives and try to make themselves the best that they can be in order to live life to its fullest. In my opinion, though, the issue is that we force ourselves all at once to take on a new habit or lifestyle that burns us out because we are not used to it.
Just like trying to sit and study for hours on end because I haven’t been going over my notes all along, I usually find myself far more interested in the pretty landscape outside my window or the peppy Christmas jingle playing in the next room. Next thing I know, I’m up cleaning my room or attending to some other task I would never normally be so willing to do. Ironically I seem to know how it goes all too well ...
The only answer I can gather from my limited experience is that I need to bite off smaller pieces at a time. All through the year I need to spend a little time going over what I am learning so that when the final exam comes I can just fine tune my knowledge and breeze through it.
Instead of trying to change our lives instantly at the New Year, it would work better to examine them regularly, trying constantly to improve our minds, bodies, careers, families, or whatever it might be that needs some attention. I want to be in tip top shape all year round, not just in January! And if I am constantly working at it all year then I will be practiced and more likely to stick with whatever I am trying to achieve.
So, here it comes ... I hear the carols jingling all around town. I see the glittering snow covering the ground. I feel the New Year barreling its way in. And thus, I want to make a fresh start, but not like last year. This year I will take it one step at a time, and with any luck, next year at this time I will still be reaping the benefits. How about you?
Danae Ross is a freshman at Illinois Valley Community College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.