I am in actual love with Tumblr. Whereas I feel The Facebook undermines the veracity of human connections (which is why I only had an account for about a minute) I think that websites like G+, Twitter and Tumblr all serve to educate while connecting. At least, that’s how I use them. Instead of nonsense updates about the consumption of lattes, I receive news updates and share my interests/passions/pick-me-up pictures of cute animals with the people I care about. I love Tumblr so much, I have two blogs. One is reflective of my personal life. It’s for my friends and is full of my favorite pop-culture indulgences (Harry Potter, Bones, Amy Poehler) while the other is strictly academic. Poke around the Education tag on Tumblr, sometime. You will be astounded by the sheer volume of amazing content these folks put out.
Recently, while doing just that, I stumbled across two posts that have resonated with me…especially after my awful yesterday.
This post on positivity, from a young man slowly dying from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, made me completely reevaluate my “bad” yesterday. It’s a longer read, but I don’t think you’ll regret it. If you don’t want to click the link, at least read this section:
In my life today, I try to approach problems similarly to the way I handled the Nintendo situation years ago. (With less crying, of course.) First, I try to assess whether a particular problem warrants getting upset about. To do this, I ask myself a simple question: In 10 years, will my life be irreparably and negatively changed because of this problem? If the answer is no, which it usually is, I immediately force myself to stop worrying about the problem.
I really need to work on this. Some days I succeed. Other days (see: yesterday) I cry.
The second important post, centers on this tweet: Ah, finals week: the season when students’ laptops magically malfunction and grandparents die at an alarming rate.
I don’t know who the original Tweeter is, and I don’t even explicitly disagree with the sentiment…but having just experienced a massive malfunction during finals week, I’m really empathizing with the stories being reblogged around this post. I have an amazing life. I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone. I also have twenty years worth of the Universe/Fate/Karma/Gods/Bad Luck/Whatever throwing me “challenges” and “obstacles” at the worst possible times.
In my Junior year of high school, I was the lead in the school play…and ended up spending all of opening day hooked to machines in the hospital. I also had no voice and was supposed to stay hospitalized overnight. But I ripped that IV out of my arm, drank my body weight in hot honey water and put on the Best.Show.Ever. Stuff like that, being hospitalized and voiceless on the opening night of the play you’re starring in, has followed me around my entire life. But I always make it work. I do the show anyway.
I like to believe that we’re all doing the best we can with the tools we have. I really am doing my best. Sometimes the Universe/Fate/Bad Luck/Whatever tries to undermine me, but I will do anything to pull off a good show. The worst thing I can imagine is trying to deal with this lifelong bad luck while my professors/peers/family/friends/strangers think I’m slacking off and inventing stories to buy extra time.
Honestly, I don’t think it should be surprising that so many minor catastrophes occur during finals week. It’s like the picture I posted on my (personal) Tumblr: 1% of the semester holds 99% of the stress…Occupy Library! Of course there are going to be tragic mishaps during finals week. We’re all trying to balance a billion different obligations, work schedules, weird finals schedules, the stress of projects and presentations and exams…is it really all that surprising when someone falls asleep, kicks their laptop off their bed and loses three final papers? I mean…I’ve never heard of that exact scenario, but I bet it’s happened.
And the grandparents dying? Maybe some people make that up but I imagine it’s a small percentage. I think it’s more likely that a lot of people have the same sort of bad luck I have. It’s never a good time for personal tragedy to strike, but in my life, I can guarantee it won’t ever happen during summer break. (Not that I’ve ever actually taken a summer off, but you know, not the point right now.) If I had any living grandparents, they probably would die during finals week. …I didn’t mean for that to sound so insensitive.
Here’s the main point: There probably is a significant increase in student excuses during finals week. There’s also a significant increase in external factors and stressors. I don’t think the excuses stem from lazy students, but from a fundamental flaw in the way we assess education. If the journey is more important than the destination, the final week of a semester should not define the previous fifteen.
The point is this: Stay positive. Do your best. Don’t lie and don’t assume others are telling lies. Good luck. I love you.