There’s a certain glory behind late-night cram study sessions. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about studying until 2 a.m. without a hint of pride. Talking about how draining studying can be is a way of connecting with friends, but we also say it because it’s what’s expected of a student. We associate cramming with being a “real university student” who works hard. In short, it’s a way of fitting into the ideal university picture.
I’m not here to say that I haven’t been there before; I’ve finished essays in the wee hours of the morning with a sense of relief, pride and exhaustion the next day. However, this is not to say it’s something I’m proud of. It’s not something to glorify. Praising exhaustion and unhealthy habits seems to be society’s favourite thing to do. For example, students are surrounded by TV and film characters who stay up all night to pull off huge, last-minute feats. Rich Purnel in The Martian and Michael Ross in Suits are perfect examples. The “genius” characters who aren’t taking care of their health are idealized and glorified. As young people we’ve learned that staying up late and overworking is normal, cool and the path to success and recognition.
The reality is this: The world is literally dark outside at 2 a.m., you’re in solitary at your desk and you’re likely running on an adrenaline rush or a can of Monster. You’re holding out for the weekend and feel a cold coming on. This state of mind and physical state doesn’t feel good. Not getting sleep and living off of caffeine is hard on your brain and health. The reality of cram study sessions is that you feel gross, maybe even a little disoriented, and your brainpower is slower than usual. Cramming information into your brain is not fun and doesn’t do any good in the long run.
I hope you can paint your own picture of what an “ideal” student is: one who isn’t what we see in the media, one who looks out for their future self. For me, an ideal student is someone who prioritises their health over school and maintains a balanced way of living by putting their values, passions and friends above their pride in grades.
Students are more than their value to the economy in the future. We are people. We are animals. And like all animals, we need to sleep, eat, hydrate, exercise and socialize to survive and thrive. Please remember to take care of your health. This is the least you owe to yourself.