The end of an era

As semester two accelerates to an end, thousands of students in this college are facing the prospect of finishing their third level education.

It’s a bittersweet time where the scent of a certain perfume can make us feel nostalgic about our first-time surviving Coppers, or the clanking of plates in the canteen reminds us of the day we were confident enough to ask Genevieve the lunch lady for some extra gravy on our stuffing. Reminiscing on our journeys through college will be a daily occurrence in the coming weeks, it is sure to add to what is already an overwhelming time for final year students.

For the majority of us nearly grads, this is the first time in our lives where we may be uncertain about where we will be next year. From the time we were in size two shoes; every year was meticulously mapped out for us. The progression of our education provided structure and peace of mind. Knowing that after 3rdclass, we’d be going into 4th, and after our first year of college, second year would surely follow.

Though it’s a blessing that we have had the opportunity to pursue higher education, its difficult to come to terms with staring into the abyss for the first time. Meeting our own expectations and making our families proud are other things that weigh on our conscience.  There’s no doubt that feeling of pressure and worry will present themselves as we’re on the final lap of the circuit, but there are ways to keep the engine running and the wheels turning.

Probably the most cliché thing to do is to practice mindfulness and meditation. The app, Waking Up: Guided Meditation, by neuroscientist Sam Harris, is a must. I was always sceptical about exercising my spirituality through a phone app, but Harris has constructed something truly marvellous that is extremely accessible. Diet and exercise are other obvious remedies for all of life’s tribulations, but their importance can not be overlooked. Keeping a healthy lifestyle can be difficult in times of stress, particularly when take-aways target us with discounted comfort food, but surely a mighty meaty isn’t the answer.

Go for a run and come home to a fruit smoothie, you’ll feel better 100% of the time. Self-discipline really can go a long way. A quick pick me up involves giving your bedroom a clear out. Put your redundant clothes in a charity bag and dust everything. It’s a good way to spend a study break and the sense of productivity will give you an immediate lift.

If you’re looking for content that goes a little deeper than the advice of a student journalist, look no further than the late David Foster Wallace. He was one of the greatest writers of the 20thcentury and his 1996 novel, “Infinite Jest”, was listed in Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels published between 1923 and 2005. He produced a graduation speech at Kenyon college in 2005 titled, “This is Water”. The simple wisdom of these speech is extraordinarily invaluable.  His knowledge is simply tremendous and goes beyond what it means to hold a degree in your hand.

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and being able to truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated. And that is understanding how to think”. The video should be prescribed viewing for anyone graduating. Its message is profound, and it will surely put things into perspective for the anxious educated.

Craig Shaaban

Image Credit: Alison Clair