Whenever I come across tweets or TikToks romanticizing relationships and “love” (yuck), I just simply roll my eyes and continue to scroll. But if during that daily social media break, I happen to check my grades and see an update, now THAT’S a rush of adrenaline. I start to nervously sweat and my neck begins to flare up in heat all while faint memories of submitted assignments emerge in my brain.
But everything comes to a halt once I’m met with a column of dark and light greens in my online gradebook, signaling As and A minuses throughout my five courses.
I give myself a slight smile and continue to (of course) reward myself with more scrolling and even watching YouTube videos! I might also revisit my submitted assignments that now hone their exemplary marks and reread my work with pride instead of the lack of care I carried during the submission process itself. Getting a high grade or a comment from a professor validating my academic effort will for sure trump over the incredibly low amount of matches I get on Tinder on any day. Everything changed when the spring semester began.
In January, I accumulated a lot of good karma. I got promoted to health and sciences editor from blogs editor at my student newspaper, I switched my co-director position to a newer section in my international affairs club and I returned to D.C. dorm life with my parents’ homecooked Indian food packed in reused Tupperware. I basked in the essence of what seemed like a chill and well-accomplished life as my spring courses didn’t seem too overbearing either, so I thought the semester would be easy, right? Nope.
You see, my university student newspaper, unfortunately, resembles other university student newspapers as its low levels of staff retention continuously taunt and ultimately damage the current staff’s mental and even physical health.
In other words, staff writers and editors are expected take on more than they can handle when it comes to assigning stories, editing drafts and reporting in general. My paper’s policy for editors — especially for those who work in news — includes taking on stories themselves if enough reporters can’t cover them instead. Each section editor’s responsibility involves ensuring three 900-1000 word stories make it to the weekly print edition in order to maintain a full paper. That meant I would cover the three stories if none of my reporters could (aka the worst-case scenario).
Sadly, I didn’t know or expect for me to frequently meet with the worst-case scenario throughout the spring semester. My priorities for stories suddenly overtook any time or energy I tried to preserve for readings and projects. On top of that, my perfectionist persona didn’t help at all since I would just spend more time on my stories and editing. Needless to say, I got burnt out pretty quick. I purposely missed my morning classes — not even 8 a.m. lectures but 9:35 a.m. lectures — and tried to make up for incredibly late assignments, which fueled a deadly cycle of procrastination and stress.
But what cycle am I talking about?
Welcome to Ishani’s Wheel of Fear that’s directly sponsored by Procrastination and Stress!
A playful game where I procrastinated on work until I “casually” missed deadlines. Yet, I would convince myself to turn in assignments late and resort to pitiful explanations about my lateness to my professors over emails. This in turn made me more laid-back and thus enabled my procrastination until the deadlines started changing to two days ago, a week ago, a month ago, etc. I got stressed to the point that I hated even looking at my assignments let alone work on them, which prolonged both my anxiety and grades. How fun!
My regular programming quickly descended as I formally withdrew from one class because I missed too many in-person attendance points, ended with a C in a major-required course and under fulfilled my role as a co-director in my other club. To make matters even sadder, I returned to my New Jersey suburban home with no internships and dark eye bags as spring entered its final weeks.
My academic validation like my romantic validation (still no matches on Tinder) hit a personal all-time low.
So now what? Well, it’s summer break and I’m preparing to take on junior year by accomplishing personal and club projects to not busy myself during the semester. I’m also applying to fall internships and research opportunities that interest my curiosities towards technology and East Asian studies since I tend to procrastinate on work that I find absolutely boring. Now, while my GPA does sit at a lower number than I ever expected to in college, I’m currently taking summer courses and trying to suppress my Wheel of Fear since I want to actually graduate on time. This includes doing the readings in my courses and churning out the best responses I know that I can write. Because while it is summer, my crave for academic validation didn’t cease whatsoever as I am and will continue to seek positive comments from my online professors. It’s grades over babes.