It’s not that I like pressure per se – it’s more like I’ve gotten pretty good at leveraging pressure into a source of active motivation.
I’m a little hesitant to tell this story because 1) I can see my mom shaking her head and deeply sighing; and 2) it’s not my typical lifestyle! But I feel like it’s a common part of #college.
On Sunday/Monday/Tuesday (it’s all a blur) I pulled my first academic all-nighter of junior fall. I had to specify “academic” because sometimes all nighters happen for fun i.e. tv series marathon, video games (Mario Kart, Tetris, Diner Dash!), etc. I knew this day was coming because I had my Aesthetic & Interpretive Understanding: Literature & Medicine Midterm Paper due Tuesday at 1pm and my Math 18: Multivariable Calculus for Economics Tuesday at 6pm. I was mentally prepared, but perhaps I should have prepped physically by spending the previous days sleeping.
However, it was the weekend before Halloween AKA a national holiday that needed to be celebrated by quadrupling my calorie intake via pure sugary coated dark chocolate. My sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, also had our annual blind date event called KAT in the Hat where a sister sets you up with a friend, gets their hat, you wear the hat and they find you in the hat, and BAM you find love. Maybe. Except not really. As intimidatingly awkward as a blind date is already, we dressed up in costumes in the spirit of Halloween! It was a SUPER fun event with awesome music, food, and of course people <3
One of the most memorable events of this Halloween season was my sighting of the most awesome boy dressed as Mario scurrying in the Yard. I’m sure he was late for another class/meeting or something, but I like to think he just was incredible at being in character at all times. I’m literally chuckling to myself as I’m recalling this. The scenario almost seems like it’s too good to be true but my friend witnessed it too! And we discussed how it’s kind of sad that more college kids don’t dress up in costumes for class like how we use to in high school/middle school/elementary. Celebrating Halloween is pretty necessary because its a general celebration of youth (and candy)!
The fun Halloween spirit definitely kept my spirits uplifted even when I knew I had so much work to do for school. I trudged along in the library (multiple people were getting suspicious that I was living there) and worked calmly throughout the night. Classes were cancelled this past Monday due to Hurricane Sandy – and my thoughts and prayers definitely go out to all those affected! – and I used that day to continue working.
What kept me going was my interesting paper topic. I think the first time I was ever genuinely interested in writing a paper was junior year of high school when I realized the complexity of my thesis excited me: gathering and analyzing evidence to support my claim (something along the lines of: murder is a kind of love / love inevitably leads to murder) was a challenge that I found thrilling. It was during this paper that I promised to myself that I would never write a paper with a thesis I didn’t like.
I had met with my Literature & Medicine TF (teaching fellow) to discuss my thesis because I didn’t want her to hate my idea or find something obviously inherently fallible that I somehow missed. She gave me a hesitant green light and doubted that I could cover everything in 5-7 pages, but I reassured her that all my ideas naturally come to an end in 6 pages.
My Literature & Medicine Midterm Paper centered around challenging/extending an argument of another author we read who claimed that pain is inexpressible. I tried to make the convincing claim that pain is indeed expressible when in a single-person context because groups of people actively prohibit pain’s expressibility. Yet pain is “inevitably inexpressible” (title of my paper) because humans are naturally drawn towards group settings. Overall, I tried to articulate my opinion that pain experiences an evolution of inexpressibility rather than beginning as an inexpressible concept.
Although creating paper topics is deemed a not-so-enticing task, I dread the process of actually eloquently gluing the paper together with well thought out sentences. I vented about this at dinner tonight, saying how I don’t prioritize the importance of writing the paper over the importance of expressing ideas. I think it’s more important to logically explain your thought process rather than eloquently explaining; however, I tend to find the latter about 13 times more time consuming!
It wasn’t a great experience (but it also wasn’t a horrible experience) staying up forever to write my midterm paper and practice for my math test, but at the end of the day, I’m just glad I had a place to do it! That may sound like a strange appreciation, but I remember not knowing where to go for a quiet place to study for the finals at the end of my freshman spring semester.
It always seems like math/science people have the latest finals (since paper based classes have earlier deadlines). I usually always have a final on the last day of exams and at the end of my freshman year, one of my blockmates and I were stuck studying for the last of the last exam. We were studiously re-watching lectures in Lamont Library until around 1-2 am, we got kicked out because the library was closing even though it is notorious for being open 24 hours Sunday-Thursday. I just figured libraries would be open 24/7 during Reading Period and Exam Week and thought that would be a safe assumption. I ended up going to bed and waking up extra early to fit in more studying.
I won’t ever run into this problem again though! In a recent email, students were notified that:
Lamont Library will be open 24/7 during reading and exam periods this year. For more information, see the announcement in the Harvard Gazette. Our decision to make Lamont available for late night study during this time follows a successful trial run of 24-hour operations at the end of the spring semester.
We want to thank everyone who made this possible, particularly the Harvard Library Access Services staff and the Undergraduate Council. Working together, we are pleased we could once again make this space available to you after normal business hours.
Evelynn M. Hammonds
Dean of Harvard College
It’s beyond spectacular that Harvard faculty and staff are constantly seeking ways to improve our undergraduate experiences! Perhaps that’s why not sleeping wasn’t as awful as it sounded…