By: James Neyer ~Staff Writer~
I’ve changed a lot during my four years at Xavier. I started off a smart ass who had no clue what he was doing with his life. Now, I’m a smart ass who has no clue what he is doing with his life with some fashion sense.
While individual parts of me have changed, there is one thing that has been consistent from year to year and has influenced my personal relationships, my work habits and especially my classwork: stress.
Stress is pretty much a common response for most college students, and I know that I have definitely felt it my senior year. The main source of it has been my thesis, a 53-page paper describing the similarity between the zeitgeists of Athens and America as shown through Aristophanes and South Park.
Since the start of the school year, even over the course of the summer, my mind has been consumed with how I was going to research and discuss this topic.
My coworkers can attest to how I somehow managed to incorporate South Park into almost every conversation.
The problem with having my thesis constantly on my mind is that I never thought I did enough. I always thought that there was some connection that I was missing or just something that I could add to tie it all together. This caused an undue amount of stress, which actually impaired my ability to write my thesis.
The stress my thesis caused has impacted me in other areas, leading me to believe that every minor mistake was literally the worst thing in the world and would end up with me being fired or alone. If anything, the stress made those problems more probable.
Stress is something we all deal with, though some people force it upon themselves unnecessarily. Whenever you have an important assignment that is getting you stressed, the best thing to do is to put it out of your mind completely. Have a nice dinner with friends, go for a jog or do something that forces you to think about another topic.
I know that this is not some grand revelation that will change your mind or make most people realize that they have done certain things completely wrong. Honestly, I have been told this many times before but have never really listened to it until this year for one reason: The issues which caused me stress didn’t last that long, so they didn’t matter.
When we have lots of minor papers or homework to work through, it is easy to not be overcome by stress. Instead of focusing on one paper or idea, I could switch between translating Greek and Latin to solving calculus problems. Even if these issues took a while to properly analyze and answer, they never really lasted a long time, with the papers occasionally taking a couple days to a week to finish, at most, and no other homework in between.
When I started writing my thesis, all the prior techniques I had used to destress myself started to fail. I tried watching television and reading different things online, but I naturally found my mind returning to that same topic. Eventually, my roommates convinced me to join them at “The Don’s” (Don Pablo’s) for dinner and forced me to talk about random shit completely unrelated to my thesis.
After that dinner, I went home and took a long nap. That helped me to completely unwind, destroying all the built-up stress, leaving me feeling revitalized. I had known that this would help me for a while, but knowing is half the battle.
As we enter the final month of this semester, for some the last semester in college, we are faced with a tremendous amount of stress. This comes in the form not just of homework or tests but of future possibilities and job opportunities. The best thing to do when you cannot get these topics out of your head is to just eat at The Don’s and let your stress melt away.