The Midterm Wall

It has reached that point in the term where the following things can be overheard on a daily basis on most college campuses:

“How is everyone today?”
[various grunts, moans, and other noises that were anything but proper English]

[in a happy voice] “I got four hours of sleep last night!”

Student 1: Can we move the quiz to tomorrow?
Professor: No
Student 2: Can we vote on it?
Professor: No
Student 1: I’ve always been in favor of democracy over dictatorships

I’ve also seen many a fellow student passed out in some of the most inconvenient locations, most of them using backpacks and jackets for makeshift pillows and/or blankets. Yeah, midterms are definitely here.It might be easy for me to laugh at the woes of fellow students, but I promise I’m not doing it out of malice: I am right there with them. I fell asleep reading my linguistics textbook the other night, and I was sitting in an upright position at my desk. I’m pretty sure my blood is currently a strange mix of red and white blood cells and concentrated black coffee right now, and yet I still manage to frequently forget what day it is.

Why is this, though? I think it’s because most of us have hit what some of us like to call ‘the Wall.” This happens every term. You start out at the start of term with enough energy to poke an eye out and some strange desire to genuinely learn, then all of a sudden you run nose-first into a giant brick fortress of sleep deprivation and information overload.

I don’t care who you are, how smart you are, or how great of a student you are: you have hit the wall at some point in your life. Even if you’ve never gone to college, most of us have hit some sort of wall like this. And if you haven’t yet, I have two questions for you: 1) Are you lying? and 2) Are you human?

Now most of you probably know the symptoms of hitting the wall. Sometimes it results in lack of energy and a new kind of love for power naps. Sometimes you give in to this lack of energy and motivation and develop Handsintheair syndrome, characterized by concerning levels of procrastination because, quite frankly, you just don’t care.

But just because we know that we have hit this wall does not mean that we know how to get over it. I am almost 22 years old and I still have a hard time getting past the wall. Do I jump over it? Climb it?  Can I  blast through it? Am I allowed to just walk around it? The answer, I think, depends on who you are and just how big your wall is. I realize how ridiculously vague and unhelpful this sounds, but bear with me for a moment. Sometimes we get to the wall because we are a little bit tired and overwhelmed, and sometimes it’s because we honestly have no idea how to get around this giant barrier standing between us and where we really need or want to be. So, in no particular order of importance, here are a few techniques I’ve learned in getting past the midterm (or the life) wall:

  1. Figure out what kind of wall this is – Recognizing what kind of wall you are up against is the best way to figure out how you are going to get through it and help you see just how big or small it really is. Right now I’m up against the midterm wall. I’m tired. I have a lot of assignments to complete and a lot of tests to study for. Oh, and I also have to have a life outside of school. The bottom line is things are kind of overwhelming right now, but not impossible. My wall. in this moment, is not impossible to get through.
  2. Remember that it is only temporary – I know how easy it is to convince yourself that you are going to be stuck in this moment forever. There might be a few exceptions, but I can almost guarantee you that you won’t always be stuck here.
  3. Be honest with yourself – When you hit the wall, recognize that you have hit the wall. Do not let yourself sink into an endless void of YouTube and middle-of-the-day four hour naps. You are better than that. Fall into the void, just do it while telling yourself that you really need to get out of it, then actually work to get out of it. This brings me to my fourth point,
  4. Have a plan – Once you hit your wall, chances are you’re going to be a little dazed and confused for a little while. Once you start coming to your senses, though, you need to have a plan. Think of ways to get around the wall. For me, this is usually manifested in a no-internet rule for a certain amount of time each day. For other walls (like trying to not be unemployed) I would set a goal to submit at least three job applications a day. Whatever you are up against, there is probably something you can do to slowly get through it.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – They don’t usually tell you this in Adult 101, but I’ll let you in on this secret: asking for help is ok. I’m not kidding. Talk to people that are older and more experienced than you are, they might actually have some great advice to give you. And no, this does not mean you are dumb or a failure, it means that you are smart enough to realize you actually don’t know everything. Just try it, I promise you will not die.

I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful to those of you poor souls facing the midterm wall right now. I’m staring at it too, but I promise it will get better.

Comment Question: What are some other techniques you have used to get over the wall? Let me know in the comment section, I would love some other ideas. 

Also, side note, here’s a video that I made with a friend about essay writing, and I think it definitely relates to this post.




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