Thursday, September 22, 2011


Now that four weeks of the semester are mostly behind me, I've noticed a predictable pattern.

The best and worst thing about my schedule this fall is that my week is front-loaded with classes and, thus, with assignment due dates.

In theory, this means that I get all of my classes out of the way by Wednesday evening and have Thursday through Sunday to prepare for the following week.

In practice, it means that I spend Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings frantically cramming, Sunday through Tuesday nights fretting and getting insufficient sleep, and Thursday through Sunday paying for it. I'm so tired that I spend most of those days napping, thinking about napping, or at best, staring blearily at a book or article and wondering why my mind isn't absorbing things.

It goes something like this:

Monday: A little tired; preparing for seminar in somewhat hurried fashion
Tuesday: Very tired; frantically preparing for seminar
Wednesday: Having given up hope of decent sleep and mostly running on adrenaline, get up before 6am to spend all day cramming for last class of the week (which also happens to be the one with the most demanding professor).
Wednesday night: Adrenaline gone. Exhausted. Inarticulate. CRASH.
Thursday: Still exhausted, but cheerful, and hopeful about the days of productivity ahead of me.
Friday: Still pretty hopeful! Trying to read...hmm, how come I keep getting sleepy?
Saturday: Sleep late. It's awesome. Then it's afternoon, and I'm hit with the realization that I have three classes to prep for and I've barely started. Suddenly, the weekend seems less awesome.
Sunday: Feeling overwhelmed and inadequate because so much is unfinished, I must be the least diligent student in my department, etc.

Aaaaand  it repeats!

So, yes, I see that this cycle is not sustainable. It's not good for my health on any level. I need to figure out some ways to balance it more effectively.

But the thing I've realized is that, when I'm in the thick of the pressure, I pretty much enjoy myself. I'm noticeably more content and confident as a student than I was last year. I know what I'm capable of and what my limits are; I know that whatever corners I might have to cut, it's not likely to be catastrophic. Coursework isn't the end of the world.

In many ways, weekends are the hardest for me because I'm anticipating the stress; having things hanging over my head has always been an inordinate mental burden for me. But when I'm actually doing the stuff, I start to thrive. And that's what makes me think that, after all, I love what I'm doing, and I'm in the right spot.

Something else I've realized is that, for all the sometimes agonizing stress and my failures to manage it well, I will someday look back on these days in my life and our marriage and miss them -- at least a little bit. I'm learning (trying) not to wish any part of it away too quickly.

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, can I relate. My schedule is a little bit different, but the basics are the same. I'm so exhausted that on my 2 mornings off I often sleep, which means I have to stay up late studying and then I'm exhausted again. I vowed not to get into that cycle this semester, but I already have! :)