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A Letter to the Exhausted Student Studying for Exams

Published: May 2022

"Fountain Pen" / Media From Wix

To the nervous university student about to take your final exams,

April must be a monumentally taxing time for you. You’re exhausted. Restless. Drowning your despondencies in a bottomless bowl of ice cream. You’ve devoted countless hours, grinding away for that coveted 4.0 exam mark. You’ve spent countless nights lying awake, worrying about your odds of making it into grad school. You’ve had to renounce hobbies countless times in order to nail that challenging course, to finally put away that high-stakes essay, to excel at that internship.

I get it. I genuinely do. This entire year has been a debacle of pandemic restrictions and colossal expectations thrust upon us. It’s understandable to feel spent as your final exams loom on the horizon. To feel futile, infinitesimal, as if you’re not cut out for the field you are pursuing. And I am writing to you because I want to remind you that you’re wrong (or at least, I’m 98% sure that you’re wrong), and that I believe you are underselling how extraordinary of an individual you are.

Sure, you may not have made that 4.0, or got passed over for that lab position, or didn’t get into your planned graduate program. But those are tremendously difficult achievements, and not succeeding on your initial attempt doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Ultimately, success is not attained from never failing, but from one’s mental fortitude and a voracious desire to improve in his or her field.

To tirelessly review course material for days, weeks on end, that’s mental fortitude.

To adamantly apply for position after position, lab after lab, internship after internship until you get that sweet, sweet acceptance, that’s mental fortitude.

To profusely struggle, yet still muster the energy to assuage the stress of your friends -- that's mental fortitude. I know innumerable people who act as a radiant candle of comfort for others, whether through sharing their artistic and musical talents, providing a listening ear, or sharing wisdom on how to excel in various courses and endeavors.

And chances are that fortitude, that compassion, it’s in you.

As a steadfast university student, your resilience, your dedication, and your character are nothing short of exemplary. I want you to understand that no academic result, however crucial as it may be for your career, is ever going to change that fact about you. So when you go into that exam, I don’t want you to feel disconcerted, or small, or incompetent. I want you to hold your head up high, and be fiercely proud of the erudite, steadfast, and compassionate person that you are. To give that exam your 150%, not out of the fear of failure, but out of inquisitiveness to see how far your sparkle will take you.

Warmly, and with my unwavering faith,

The Firecracker Writer




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