It’s one of the worst set of circumstances I continually find myself in.
It starts days, weeks, months before the actual test date. I hear about the date the first time: I either immediately forget it or write it down somewhere, then immediately forget it.
A month or two passes. The date draws closer. People start talking about it.
Suddenly it’s a week beforehand. I think of all the chapters I still need to cover. I stop thinking after coming up with four or five. The slightest bit of panic and anxiety sparks in my chest. Apprehension, dread. Am I gonna fuck this up like I did last time? I plug myself into video games or the internet or my cellphone and forget about it for a while.
Two or three days beforehand. The nervousness compels me to at least open something related to what I have to study. A textbook, a tutorial, a handout. My mind immediately hits the wall of this is boring as shit compared to split-pushing with Nature’s Prophet. My attention-span sheds a brief, but lovely light. More procrastinating.
The day before. Before the levels of anxiety and panic reach a critical threshold, my brain refuses to broach the subject of tomorrow’s assessment.
Suddenly it’s 21:00. I start thinking in military time: it’s easier that way to calculate the number of hours I have left.
Months of neglected work suddenly presents itself as a colossal, insurmountable mountain. I can’t just prioritize or some shit, everything is important. They could set a question on anything. Even narrowing it down to the fundamental concepts is futile because there’s a fucking dozen of them.
I’m still on campus and most people have left already. By the time it’s midnight, whatever place I’m in will be empty. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, a friend of mine will be cramming as well. However, they’ve either studied more or give less of a fuck, so they’ll often leave ‘early’.
Then I’m alone. I’ll have x amount of hours left. Time takes on a pragmatic, mechanistic nature. It’s no longer about night and day; it’s about how much I have left on the clock. Sleep is either completely neglected or allotted three hours somewhere down the line. I think I still have a chance, that if I focus and partition my time correctly I can study just enough to pull off something passable.
The air-conditioning in the IT lab or the student center of wherever the fuck I am has chilled the place to arctic temperatures by now. My joints ache from the cold.
That illusion fades rather quickly, unfortunately. Spending months not studying doesn’t suddenly give me razor-sharp focus and Herculean willpower when I’m on a caffeine comedown and being weighed down by anxiety and dread at three in the morning.
I’ll usually have given up before dawn. Three hours of sleep turns into five. I’ll wake up with an hour or two to spare before the test.
Apathy sets in. The internal monologue feigns indifference to assuage disappointment. Doing well on a test starts months beforehand; there’s nothing you can do now. Take the hit, learn from your mistake and move on.
But I never learn from my mistake. And that’s why I’m sitting here.
Well, not really. In the case of the anatomy test I’m writing in 14 hours, I have been working on this for months. I know things reasonably well. It’d be perfectly adequate for the average person.
Except the idea of being average is fucking reprehensible to me.