Dismissing Panic

Midterm season is a panicky time of the year. I would say this type of stress comes around about 4 times in most everyone’s life. If you’re a student, it’s midterms and finals. If you’re in the workforce, it’s quarterly reports and quotas. I have no doubt there are more examples, but I want to dive into the idea of how to dismiss this type of panic.

I’m most likely going to be taking summer courses in 2019. I have an 11-month lease on this apartment and will probably be in Montreal, so I have no reason not to do so. I want to get out of college as fast as possible, so if I take summer courses I’ll be halfway done by the beginning of the next fall semester. If I take summer courses again, I’ll be on track to graduate by the end of 2020. Graduating after two years of work is nearly unheard of, but I’m determined to study on my terms.

Although I am very ambitious and passionate person, panic has never evaded me during times of stress. Today, I frantically checked my GPA through an online calculator to make sure I was where I wanted to be. I plan on taking a gap year for the next fall and winter semesters, so I have to maintain a GPA of 3.0. A 3.0 is a 70% at McGill, so it’s entirely doable, but some fear set in after I noticed how I was struggling in my French class. That worry commanded my thoughts for the next hour during my philosophy conference where I am sure I missed valuable information about the upcoming essay we have.

Halfway through the conference, the panic was still there. I was checking different combinations of grades to see how poorly I could do to maintain a GPA of 3.0 even though I knew I would never reach that low. It was the fear and desperation to know that everything would be ok that had me tapping away at my phone. At this point, I took notice of what I was doing, how I was feeling and recognized that I needed to take a step back from this obsession.

In high school, I was obsessed with grades. Ultimately, I did get something out of it. I was valedictorian of my class, received more scholarships than any other student, was recognized by the Governor of New Mexico. I met and worked with my two amazing mentors and joined Original Path. My perfectionism looked fantastic from the outside, but it had slowly eaten away at my mental state. It was a wake-up call when I found myself crying over a mark of 89% in one class.

Since then, I’ve been careful to catch myself when I get nit-picky about my grades. Especially as a college freshman, I have a lot to learn before I should be too concerned with my marks. I’m not failing, not by any means, so I should divert my attention to more important things such as my mental and physical health.

So I did just that – I diverted my attention. I told myself I was going to solely focus on my philosophy conference until it was over, and if I still wanted to panic about my grades once it was, I would be able to go home and do so in private. That ended up not happening because a sense of panic will usually pass through the human mind rather quickly. The trick is to distract yourself. When you find yourself becoming obsessive over anything, distracting yourself and taking your focus away from the object of obsession is always the safest and most effective way to fix the situation.



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