Midterm season is coming and going with its many trials and tribulations. Exams are the headline issue — at least they are for me, *cough cough* goodbye GPA *cough cough* — but I’ve realized by now that the exams issue is wildly self-inflicted — at least in the case of me and my very few friends.
“NICK,” my conscience screams! “Show, don’t tell!”
I went to my first midterm today. The midterm began at 2:30 p.m. sharp, which implied that I could not study until the morning of and still be prepared enough. (Professor who shall not be named and TA’s who I couldn’t name even if I tried, please forgive me). I sat outside in the rain and the cold — a self-assigned punishment — and ran into a friend of mine who, unbeknownst to me, was walking in a direction that would imply we took the same class.
“Hey!” I said with my last ounce of innocence walking down the plank. “Are you in this class?”
“Yeah,” they said. “I haven’t been since day one. Wish me luck!”
My last ounce of innocence had walked off the plank.
I had long thought that the reckless abandonment of responsibility leading to the onslaught of stress and anxiety was my fetish and mine alone. But at that moment, as they asked me to wish them luck with their cheek-wide smile and their proverbial twinkling eyes, I realized that many people derive masses of utility in the pleasure of freaking the fuck out.
You ever have that, dear reader? When the anxiety of five cups of blonde roast coffee and two papers due at midnight is coursing through your veins? You feel fucking electric, in the sense that you too could power a light bulb if you touched one.
This feeling has propelled me through life, through all-boys Catholic school, through family dinners and through every edit at the YD-fucking-N.
And so, dear reader, what is an anxiety-ridden, emotionally jacked-up Yale student supposed to do during midterm season? A friend in Silliman had an idea.
I don’t trust people in Silliman and neither should you. JE kids are allegedly snakes, but a salamander is certainly the most snake-resembling, slithery college mascot at Yale. Despite this, I was invited by a Silliman student to partake in a “self-care wknd.” A part of me thought that this referred to the “wknd” section of the YDN, a self-care weekend I could hardly miss. Yet, on second thought and second look, I realized this couldn’t be true. As I knew then and was reminded earlier today, Yale students enjoy the thrill of stress. Self-care at Yale? A look at the Opinion section of this paper would show that we prefer cob-webbed wooden rooms over self-care.
I realized the Facebook-organized weekend release in which I was invited to partake was created by a college student outside of the Yale bubble — central Connecticut, a foreign land to me and you. “Is self-inflicted and easily avoidable stress only a Yale thing?” I pondered this point for three seconds before impulsively and violently clicking “going” on the Facebook event. Thankfully the event encouraged me to self-care in the home; there was no way I would Uber to central CT for a wknd retreat.
Alas, a self-care wknd. I was committed.
That was Thursday, the day on which students without a Friday class — myself included — begin the Yale weekend. And the Nick Tabio from last Thursday didn’t know what to do with himself.
Should I sleep in? Take an hour-long shower? Buy some new scented candles? Go on a nature walk?
I decided instead to online shop. You could say that online shopping is the smoking equivalent of the virtual world: it’s widely accepted for some reason but bad for you and cheaper if you buy from a foreign country. I spent $64 more dollars than I had in my bank account, a decision which will stop me from online shopping ever again.
You may be waiting for the climax to my story; a reasonable request when over 600 words into a rant. And while I’m a people pleaser, I cannot please you today. The rest of my weekend was spent in bed, sleeping until the middle of the afternoon under the defense and guise of self-care.
Instead, I found myself thinking about the perhaps more jovial point I made earlier: that I fall far too frequently into the trap of procrastination at not just the cost of my grades and academic responsibilities but also my mental health and well-being.
There is no good way to address the problem, which is why I find myself struggling to increase my productivity. The productive among us may harshly but not unfairly say to just be more productive. While the “just be better” argument is widely unpopular, Yale gives its students a wealth of opportunities that I don’t take advantage of.
Bass is open past midnight, and each residential college provides a dining hall, buttery, and library, all of which allot a quiet(ish) place to study, read, write and check the boxes of our daily to-do lists. Yet, I haven’t found myself in a library more than once this semester; and that one time, I played online chess for two hours, leaving with the feeling that I got nothing is done and the feeling that I can’t play chess.
If we reject this solution, the “just be better” solution, we have limited options. Is there an underlying issue that is halting productivity? There is no immediate response to this, certainly no response that can effectively manifest itself in a “self-care wknd.” A massage, a run, and a yoga class will make even the coldest of people enjoy life for a moment, but that momentary warmth, I’ve found, is fleeting at best.
While I wish I could give you, dear reader, a lighter solution to my problem and, perhaps, yours, I’m stumped. Is there an issue with self-care culture? The idea that showering yourself with moments of relaxation will lead to long-term trends of well-being; is that futile?
I woke up on Monday morning this week having completed my self-care wknd. I knew that I had gotten nothing done, and I know that I no-longer believe in self-care wknds. There is no easy solution to any major problem, and responsibility, well-being and productivity are no small matters.
Wishing you a happy fall self-care brk,
Nick Tabio | email@example.com