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Reading Period

The Constant Battle with the Self

By Jaime A. Cobham, Crimson Staff Writer

We spend almost nine months out of the year adhering to a strict, rigorous schedule mandated by the College. Early in the morning our alarms go off and off and off until we can no longer rationalize hitting the snooze button. Through the rain, fog, and unending mountains of snow, we slog to class every day and night in preparation for midterms, papers, and exams that we will forget in mere weeks.

And then, it all ends.

Structure goes from omnipresent to nonexistent quite literally overnight. After spending most of our lives in a schooling system that aggressively overschedules nearly ever hour of the day, we are suddenly given a week filled with more pressure than any other and little support to navigate it.

Walking into Lamont during reading week ranks one notch below cruel and unusual punishment. Each face carries the weight of an unknown trauma, imminent demise in the form of one too many blue books, and the silent but distant prayer that the sweet release of summer lies in waiting. As time goes on, the smell lingers and grows until it walks the halls like a demon guarding the unsuspecting souls it claimed. No happiness can enter that building and no victors ever leave.

But where can you go if not the library? How can you manage to work on papers, projects, presentations, and study for finals without falling down a rabbit hole of doom? Some try dining halls, a regular play for those seeking asylum from the madness of finals while still hoping to salvage their GPAs. Throughout most of the year, the dhall provides a home for all those looking to work in a non-soul-crushing environment, but even this oasis is compromised during these dark times.

A place that once housed joyous meals and heated debate now becomes the catacombs of our hopes and dreams. Empty chairs at empty tables fill the room with memories of what we have lost and nightmares of what we must face. The floor to ceiling windows that once showed immaculate displays of the river, the sun, and the stars give way to constant reminders of the overcast skies and rain we must endure until we have any chance at salvation.

Running out of options, we find the dorm room as the last beacon of hope for prevailing through it all. The room you dedicated an entire year to making your own, to making your home. The bed covered in sheets with your favorite sports team’s logo or childhood cartoon character. The workspace all your own, free from any of the distractions and mood altering stimuli of the outside world.

And even without the institutionally-imposed structure of the school year, you know now is the time to gird your loins and work. Today we begin anew and prepare for the wars to come as we hunker down into the workspace of our own making. Nothing can stop us from reaching our full potential.

Until you remember your friend’s Hulu password. One episode of "Empire" to free your mind will likely allow increased productivity. Honestly, if you don’t watch that one episode, you probably won’t be able to study at all. Watching a little "Empire" is basically in the syllabus for your gen ed. So you settle down with your computer, plug in your earbuds, and sit down for one—just one, you tell yourself—episode.

And then, you get a text from your friend back home: “LaMarcus Aldridge is pulling some vintage Duncan right now!!!1!” You know that if you tried to study now, you would spend the entire time thinking about the game. How can you be productive when all you can think about is LA pulling out the Duncan remix and draining a 15-footer turnaround in Serge Ibaka’s mouth? What if you miss Duncan giving the backboard one last sweet kiss as he banks in an 18-footer off glass right in the Slim Reaper’s mouth?! Studying will have to wait.

As the best game of the playoffs comes to a close, you look over to the clock only to realize it is one in the morning. The day has passed you by without any real work getting done. But if you stay up and try to work now, how will you get work done tomorrow? You will be tired all day and struggle to focus. In fact, the only smart play here would be getting a good night’s rest in preparation to take the next day by storm.

That makes sense, right? It doesn’t matter that this has happened yesterday too, right? Tomorrow will be a new day. The perpetual promise of tomorrow shall save us all from this lackluster, uninspired existence restoring our drive and capability. We shall rise and take on all that the world may offer with the unwavering determination we entered today with. Wait……… Good luck with the final in the morning!!

Jaime A. Cobham ’17, a Crimson editorial writer, is a government concentrator in Mather House. His column appears on alternate Tuesdays.

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