Column: When Life gives you lemons before finals

Saba Moussavian, Author

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I am sitting at my computer with textbooks, notes and study guides all spread out around me. Suddenly, I hear a knock at the door. It’s Life. Life arrogantly enters without my invitation and immediately begins to shout, “Yooo maaaa, I brought you some lemons.” I sigh, “Life, what are you doing? It is 2 o’clock in the morning, what do you expect me to do with lemons?” And Life is like, “Make lemonade, Stupid!” and I am like, “Life, I have five finals to study for. I do not have time to make lemonade.”

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Lemons that Life dropped off at my house last night. Life was all like, “Lemonsss?” and I was all like, “APUSHHH?” Photo by Saba Moussavian

You are probably wondering two things right now:

1. Why is Life talking like that?
2. What the heck is going on here?

To answer the first question, I don’t know why Life is talking like that. I guess Life just kinda does his/her (Life is gender-ambiguous) own thing.

To answer the second question, let me tell you where we are: We are in the pre-final zone.  Life is currently dropping off a lot of lemons. Sometimes, more lemons than we can handle.

So, we are left to question, “How will I maintain my sanity throughout the pre-final zone?” Using advice from Social Sciences teacher Alexander Davis and what I have learned as an experienced junior, I have constructed a list of ways to deal with this large intake of citrus juice.

1. Organize the lemons
I’ve got math, and history, and bio, and English, and — whoa, chillax bruh! I know it may seem like you have a lot, and you probably do, but there is no need to panic. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil and make lists. How many finals do you have? What do you need to study for each final? How much time do you need for each task? Make a calendar to schedule for when you will work on what — maybe even color-code it. Finals studying is all about being on top of your work. Spreading out the big jumble of work you have onto a piece of paper will also hopefully show you that this isn’t impossible.

2. Take one lemon at time
I know teachers tell us this all the time, but I’m going to say it anyways: Don’t procrastinate — break your work up, spread it out. All of your work left for the night before can be more lemons than possible to handle. But, you can probably deal with a basket of lemons a day, or even a few lemons an hour.

3. Prioritize between which lemons are more important to handle
If you have five finals to study for and a limited amount of time, odds are you won’t be able to get to all of them. Consider which subject you are struggling in most and in which class the grade matters most.

I encourage all of you to calculate the grade you need on your final in order to achieve your desired grade in the class — not to give yourself the overconfidence of being able to flunk the final, but so you can be aware of exactly where you stand in each class.

4. Tell your teachers about all the lemons you have

“You know, your teacher wants you to do well,” Davis said. “Your teacher isn’t trying to screw you over.”

Yes, there remain a hand full of oddball teachers who I am still convinced are plotting against me, but I have found that most teachers are willing to work to help you however possible in regards to finals and other issues. They probably can’t make a test disappear, but can give you great advice on how to do well on your final. Oftentimes, teachers are also willing to let you take your final on a different day if the day you are scheduled to take it on is already overloaded.

5. Take a little sugar with your lemons

Just because finals are important doesn’t mean you have to suffocate yourself with work. Taking breaks to exercise, hang out with friends or watch some TV can be healthy and might actually give you the energy to keep working. Maybe you’ll want to catch up on 30 minutes of Netflix after every two hours of studying. Whatever it is, remember: Lemons aren’t so sour with a little bit of sugar.

6. Complain with your friends about all the sour lemons Life keeps giving you
Walk into the library on finals week and I guarantee you there will be a good number of people complaining about their finals, maybe even more than there are actually studying. And perhaps that’s not a bad thing!

Just know that there are nearly 2,000 other people in this school ready to vent with you about how horrible their lives are right now; that’s right, we’re all in this together. Sometimes, just knowing you’re not alone and getting out all that frustration can make you feel better. Maybe you can’t make much lemonade by yourself, but if you get 2,000 people to make it with you — well, that’s a lot of lemonade.

7. Remember that these lemons will be gone soon and you can have all the lemonade you want during your winter break
Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one and then we’re there. In less than two weeks you will be free(ish) from the stresses of school.

But, being free will also make your grades untouchable. This is your last chance to turn those “B+s” into “A-s” and “C+s” into “B-s,” so make it worth it.

Just think of all the food, Netflix and sleep you will consume. Yes, it’s true, Life will keep knocking on your door with more lemons, but sometimes you just need to chug and get through the rough parts, and thinking about how close you are to a break can help you do that.

Consider these while you fight your way through the pre-finals stress or any other stressful studying time you may encounter in the future. And next time Life comes knocking at your door in the middle of the night delivering lemons, you can be all like, “Cool, lemons. I can handle that.”