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The Breaking Point

As I was walking down St. George the other day, I heard snippets from other peoples’ conversations. I promise, I wasn’t eavesdropping; I just forgot my headphones and I was bored. Anyways, these are the kinds of things I heard:

“Blah blah blah blah stressed blah blah blah failure blah blah forget blah tired blah blah I can’t blah blah blah…”

UofT, it seems we are in a sorry state of affairs at present. Of course, it’s to be expected at this time of year. We’re all just trying to put in that final hustle and make it to winter break.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m actively trying to face my final assignments with a more positive outlook; I’m trying to use my stress as a motivator. I want to appreciate every moment that I have as an undergrad student. However, I want to make something very clear:

None of that makes the work easy, and it certainly doesn’t make it go by any faster.

I’m still so busy. I’m still so stressed. I still feel like I need to spend every waking moment crossing tasks off of my to-do list. No matter how much positivity I try to infuse into the process, working so tirelessly inevitably makes me tired. I just keep on keeping on, trying to ignore the fact that I might get burnt out in the process.

Recently, serendipity intervened. I got an e-mail about an hour before one of my lectures to say it would be cancelled. All of a sudden, I had three extra hours in my life! By some happy chance, I now had three free hours and all I had to do was choose how to spend them.

The first thing that popped into my mind was to spend them at the library, but I convinced myself to reconsider. Those three hours were extra hours; I woke up this morning prepared to do without them. I didn’t need to spend them in the library, so I decided that I wouldn’t.

Instead, I opted for a long walk. I explored Yorkville; I did some window-shopping, took some pictures, and read the plaques on the historic buildings that I passed. I bought some socks from the Winners on Bloor. I tried out a new coffee shop—the Coffee Lab, so good!—and bought a beautiful copy of As You Like It from Willow Books. Essentially, I spent the three hours aimlessly wandering around, doing whatever I felt like doing, and taking it easy. For the first time in a while, I took a proper break.

Pictured: Coffee Lab portable cup and As You Like It bookPictured: the Heliconian Club in Yorkville

When I got home that evening, I felt SO MUCH BETTER than I have been feeling throughout this finals season. That cancelled class allowed my brain to take a break for a little while. I stopped stressing, I let my mind wander, and when I came back to my work later on, I felt refreshed. I found that I worked much more efficiently after my break; I even had time to crank out this blog post before bed!

This cancelled class served as a friendly reminder that a break is not wasted time. A break is a time to recharge. I know you may be feeling—like I was—that you just can’t spare a free minute. Trust me, you can and you should. In the long run, you’ll save time because you’ll work more efficiently after your break. Don’t wait for a cancelled class to force your hand like I did!

Best of luck on your exams, UofT! Be kind to yourselves.

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