The days grow longer. The flowers bloom. And I luxuriate in my… three hours of nightly sleep while trying to block out impending homework, projects and AP exams.
I can tell that it is springtime at Marlborough when my nightmares transition from the occasional insect-related fear to truly terrifying scenarios, like sleeping through my chemistry exam or forgetting the difference between Ho Chi Minh and Viet Cong.
I had a particularly traumatizing dream during our college tour: former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was a serial killer, chasing me around with a shank.
Perhaps I was intimidated by the superhuman tour guides who had just showed us around various Ivy League schools. Or maybe I was concerned about the sketchy water quality in our Saugus, MA hotel that eventually earned the nickname “Saugy” among my peers.
But whatever the cause, my unusual dream established that stress, sleep deprivation and the random facts crammed into my head are a dangerous combination.
Every year I tell myself, “This May will be different. I WILL NOT let assignments, deadlines, and anxiety get the best of me.” But then every May…well, you get the idea.
Of course, I am not the only Marlborough student teetering on the edge of sanity. The last two months of school are notorious for the kind of stress that no amount of Kreation juice or Wine & Cheese sandwiches can fix.
I started the year as Elle Woods approached Harvard Law: with style, motivation, and her breezy mantra: “What? Like it’s hard?”
But as I approach the finish line, I feel more like Leo in the Revenant. I don’t know if the bear attacking me is my APUSH research paper in Chicago format or the principles of chemistry, but it’s definitely one of those two.
My room is littered with textbooks and study guides. The ‘recommended videos’ on my YouTube homepage are all Crash Course U.S. History summaries by John Green. There are so many tabs open on my computer that the little colorful wheel icon has become a familiar sight. And I’m sure by now my family is sick of hearing the song “I Will Survive” coming from my room, accompanied by soft sobs.
I recently received my first conduct infraction of the year for wearing a sweatshirt with a logo that was “too large.” While I take responsibility for this gross offense, that sweatshirt was my last shred of freedom in the sheer hell we call May. What upsets me is not even infraction itself, but the idea that I might as well have worn my pajamas if I was going to get caught violating the uniform. That would have given me two more minutes to sleep or to review the Election of 1877.
It often feels as though my understanding Keynesian economics or the Barbary Wars is something I’ll never use again, lest I seem like the pretentious Harvard student in the bar scene of Good Will Hunting. However, when my brother recently asked what year California became a state, my head perked up at the rare opportunity to explain the Compromise of 1850 in excruciating detail.
Because of triumphant moments like these, I’d argue that my understanding of U.S. history is one of the most relevant things I’ve acquired at Marlborough. Because of APUSH, I feel the most woke I’ve ever been. So if I had the option, I probably wouldn’t do anything differently in terms of course selection. As for the anxiety dreams, sleep deprivation and final exams, the only words of encouragement I can offer are courtesy of Gloria Gaynor…We Will Survive.