Editorial: ask for help this finals week

Julia Dursztman '19

Hell week and finals week. We have made it to the point of the year where two weeks can feel like a true eternity. The holiday season may be coming up but one thing’s for sure: it is impossible to get in the winter spirit when you have four papers, two labs, and three exams left before freedom. But take solace in the fact that you are not alone and take this one piece of advice: Ask for help.

I am far from the first one to draw attention to the dangers of Grinnell’s competitive suffering.

Everywhere, people are challenging peers on who has more pages to write or who has left how many projects until the last minute. Even on Twitter, many popular pages are constantly posting “Mood” photos that include memes of people’s lives falling apart or people dropping an entire plate of tacos in a parking lot, which are basically the same thing, let’s be honest.

However, an often forgotten aspect of this issue is that the main people we end up competing with in this endless game are ourselves.We have been taught to push ourselves to the absolute limit. If we don’t turn in every single assignment we are failures. If we spend time with friends or watching t.v., we are wasting our tuition money. If we don’t have bloodshot eyes and sleep deprivation-induced nervous ticks, we didn’t work hard enough. We are never reminded, let alone incentivized, to set aside personal time and wellness time. And most importantly, we are never told to ask for help.

There is a reason why the Student Affairs office exists and why incomplete forms are printed in stacks in the JCC. They are there because our system guarantees that we will need them.

Before Thanksgiving break, in the midst of a tough mental situation, I made the decision to leave behind my piles of papers and readings, to miss four class periods, and to go home to sleep and eat well and ground myself. This was not a decision that would be encouraged by the student handbook or by an academic advisor, but it was the decision I needed to make to for my wellbeing. When I returned to campus, I met with Student Affairs to discuss the possibility of taking an Incomplete, essentially a two-week extension on the deadline of class materials, for two of my classes. This wasn’t a fun decision and didn’t make me feel like a particularly studious person, but it made me feel like someone who was taking control of her life. Filling out those forms meant blocking out the voices in my head, and sometimes in front of me, telling me to experience the bonding activity that is suffering in Burling during finals week, to go to the grill at midnight and guzzle down mozz sticks in between essays because it’s “fun” and “the college experience.” Essentially, I had to become aware that it is normal for my life and my brain to not function on a semester schedule. Honestly, that’s not a normal way to live, think about it.

How likely is it that all 1,700 of us will be fully functional students for a 14-week semester without any true breaks and still be able to sprint the last few miles to the finish line? Forgive me if I don’t want to go into my winter break dehydrated, depressed, and utterly sleep-deprived.

So, I implore all of you to ask for help. Ask for an extension, it does not mean you are a procrastinator. Ask for an incomplete, it does not mean you are a slacker. Knowing and using the resources available isn’t just about the college system, it’s a life skill that will help us all in the long run.