Deadlines and Lifelines

Reading week is done and gone and we’re back in the midst of things here are U of T. Something I always struggle with post reading week is deadlines. The looming inevitability of essays and exams crashes down and my zen’d out headspace feels like it goes into overdrive. I know that I need to use my reading week to rest and reset, but I also feel like I start ten steps behind everyone else when I come back.

I always remind myself I cannot feel guilty for needing a break. For the first two years of University I always had this exhausting guilt of never doing enough, or not studying long enough. Long enough for what? Doing enough for what? There is no one measuring the amount of time we put into studying, or checking off boxes for things we achieve outside of the classroom. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do great things or study hard, but something I have to keep reminding myself is that life is about more than the quantity of things I do: it’s about the quality and how I do it.

Secondly, I stop thinking. I know that sounds weird but hear me out. I seem to love to keep my brain busy with to-do lists, deadlines, and the little random thoughts of what I’m going to have for dinner. Instead of thinking about them, I write them down. I stop thinking and I just start doing. I write my essay deadlines in order, I write my to-do lists with most pressing at the top and least pressing at the bottom. I organize the jumble in my head into something tangible, a list of things I can cross off and watch slowly diminish.

Now, if you still find yourself in a pickle and cannot for the life of you meet the deadlines, something I learned in third year absolutely changed my academic life. Use. The. Academic. Advisors. I always thought they were only there if you were in extenuating circumstances, or needed a class switch but they are there for so many other reasons. I’ve gone to my academic advisors just to explain how stressed I’ve been or if my schedule is not working out. They’ve referred me to resources like learning strategists and have shown me the most support I have ever experienced at U of T. One of the academic advisors was the first person to show me that my worth is not based on my ability to hand things in on time. She would help me space out my deadlines and ask for extensions on my behalf. I was always worried I’d be seen as “less than” for needing extensions, but what I soon realized was that sometimes life just can’t cater to the black and white world that is the syllabus.

There is a difference between getting support in and exploiting a system. Advisors, strategists and the possibility of extensions are all there to support us. Deadlines are coming up but life goes on after those days pass. I’ve learned to be kind to myself and know that the second I feel alone, there is support there for when I need it.

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