I slept. For about twelve hours.
Having stressed and studied and juggled life, after finals I was in bed about five hours earlier than normal. Now the next day, I’m realizing there’s a pattern here.
I call it my Post Finals Phenomenon.
Kinda like a predictable hangover, the day after finals has a predictable emotional hangover.
What if I didn’t pass?
What if not having internet for a week during the move was time unrecoverable? What if I didn’t guess right on the questions I wasn’t sure of? Why why did I guess that way on that question? What was I thinking?
I will tell you, these thoughts are predictable for me the day after finals, even with many precious people in my life who assure me daily that I’ve got what it takes to successfully pursue my grand dream of becoming a physician.
If you know someone pursuing a grand dream and wonder why they’re expressing insecurity, let it be. Its predictable. Keep on reminding them of your support. Let them know your support is not predicated on them successfully reaching the goal, but is simply because they are them and you are you.
If you are someone pursuing a grand dream and are feeling insecure “post finals”, let it be. Its predictable. Express whatever you’re feeling to those you know will hear you and accept that its part of the “emotional hangover”.
Because I’m who I am, it actually helps me to have in the back of my brain the recourse of a retake if I totally flub on a final block exam. While my intention is always to do very well, knowing that this isn’t a “one-shot-all-or-nothing” deal helps to calm my panic when those thoughts of OMG I’M SURE I FAILED! intrude. It also really helps me to remember that I felt this way after last block finals, I’ll probably feel this way after next block finals, and feeling insecure is an acceptable feeling even for this super-intense-driven-loving-the-process person.
Here’s a few other things I’ve found that can help with those pesky post finals phenomena.
- Sleep. Sleep a lot.
- Exercise. Not obsessively, but consistently. Take the dog for a walk. Go on a hike with friends. Jump on the treadmill or stair climber. Sit in the sun. Dance in the rain. Make snow angels.
- Eat. Cook simple and healthy meals, and enjoy a sit-down meal without your flashcards in hand or the time-crunch of needing to get back to studying.
- Laugh. If your “emotional hangover” hangs on longer than a day or two (the time it usually takes to catch up on sleep), jump start your recovery by finding things to laugh about. Go see a comedy. Hang out with little kids. Watch your favorite comedian on TV. Laugh even when you don’t feel like it – I promise your emotions will catch up.
- Serve. Nothing is more guaranteed to get you out of your self-obsessed worry about grades, than serving someone else. Reach out to a homeless family. Volunteer at a local food bank or shelter. Go through your closet and give away what you haven’t worn in the past year. Sponsor a family for the holidays and get to know them. Your heart will let go of your insecurity as you reach out.
Whether you just finished final exams, exams are coming up in the next few days, or know someone who is struggling with post-exam insecurity, remember this: Just like an actual hangover is predictable and lessens with time and healing, so too the emotional hangover of insecurity is predictable and will lessen with time and healing work.
What have you found to best help you get through the hours and days of insecurity following final exams, or following any big-deal-thing that leaves you feeling insecure?