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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: It’s the small things

Photo by Kalena Agpasan
small things2

Midterm season is upon us.

Papers begging to be written, cursors blinking on blank pages. Unopened textbooks with unread chapters silently judge from the corner of cluttered desks. Quizlets await creation, countless terms and concepts needing to be studied.

All-nighters and midnight meltdowns? Ritual. Impending dread and raging frustration? Inevitable.

All these responsibilities and expectations can feel overwhelming. Spring break claims great power as the sole motivator of student academics, the enticing promise of lazy afternoons and beach days glimmering on the horizon.

Yet, besides this precious reprieve, is there anything else that encourages Aggies to trudge onward? Can any semblance of peace be found in the midst of such stress?

First, let me state the obvious: I’m no psychologist or life coach. However, I can claim to be a survivor of the trials and tribulations of college classes. If there’s anything I’ve gained from the continuous cycle of exam weeks and assignments — besides a few gray hairs — it’s a better understanding of myself and the importance of appreciation.

Throughout the past months, there have been multiple times when I seriously considered burning all my textbooks, throwing my laptop into Lake Bryan and using my meager life savings to book the next flight to some obscure Mediterranean island where I could live out the rest of my days far, far away from wretched Canvas.

One memory, in particular, burns fresh in my mind as an era in which my cursor hovered precariously close to the American Airlines website.

Near the end of last semester, it seemed as if all five of my professors had met for lunch one day and collectively brainstormed how to fit as many grade-altering and time-consuming assignments into one week as humanly possible.

After triple-checking syllabi and schedules, the truth was inescapable: I had a research paper, two essays, a math exam and a presentation all due within seven days. Finishing everything by its deadline felt like an impossible task. Dread consequently accumulated to a stifling degree.

Amid the downward spiral of late-night Evans writing rendezvous and headache-inducing calculus reviews, I began to notice how small details in my day-to-day routine created a ripple effect on my mood and motivation:

Listening to a good song on the walk to the library instantly lifted my spirits, anxiety’s claws briefly overpowered by the flow of instrumentals.

Looking out the window of my study area to admire a golden-pink sunset or cloudless blue sky instilled moments of stress with calm.

Buying a smoothie from the Memorial Student Center Smoothie King served as a pick-me-up to continue the journey of endless writing and reviewing.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — how does Spotify or overpriced food translate into a good grade or successful study session?  Though these factors won’t necessarily write your papers for you or supply your brain with an immediate understanding of derivatives, they do expand your outlook.

It’s too easy to bury oneself under a mountain of pressure, stress, self-criticism and frustration when academic responsibilities pile up, making it hard to remember that life continues onward and the world keeps spinning beyond the realm of college.

Appreciating the small things allows us to step out of these suffocating stress bubbles and negative moods, encouraging mindfulness and creating moments of calm in the chaos. With simple acts of reflection, the daunting becomes doable.

But don’t just take my word for it — to gain a wider perspective, I turned to fellow students to hear what works best when exams are in full swing.

According to international studies sophomore Bianca Gordon, the remedy for midterm stress is simply walking outdoors.

“When the weather’s nice, I like to walk around outside and just listen to music, usually instrumental or piano,” Gordon said. “Take a moment to breathe and let my thoughts kind of process when I’m stressed.”

Bioenvironmental sciences junior Garrett Harris agreed with the nature theme.

“I enjoy going up to the [Zachry Engineering Building] rooftop gardens because they’re peaceful and have a nice view,” Harris said.

“I usually like to go over to Starbucks, try a new coffee, walk around and find new study spots,” general studies freshman Audrey Hillam said.

An overarching theme in my own and these Aggie’s strategies? Simplicity. From strolls to lattes, these small things, special yet easily neglected, can influence the entire course of one’s day.

So, all you have to do is take a moment. To walk around, look out the window, get that espresso, plug in your earbuds … and just breathe. I promise midterms will seem a lot less intimidating afterward.

Ana Sofia Sloane is a political science sophomore and opinion columnist for The Battalion

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Ana Sofia Sloane
Ana Sofia Sloane, Associate Opinion Editor
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