From procrastination to meditation

A university student’s life is indeed a stressful and demanding one. As high school students, we want nothing more than to attend university; and as university students, we want nothing more than to go back to being high school students.

For years now I find myself asking, when did life become so stressful, busy and exhausting? It’s all about deadlines for essays, preparing for presentations and studying for exams. You wake up during the first day of holidays wondering where the entire semester has gone.

The truth is, maybe it is not as bad as we make it out to be. Many of us have pulled all-nighters, sipping on endless cups of coffee and frantically eating potato chip after potato chip, wondering later how the entire bag got empty so quickly. I raise my hand to that. I am a victim of procrastination and anxiety. The question we should be asking, though, is not why or how. Rather we should start thinking about ways in which we can enjoy university life.

Instead of fear for exams, why can’t we focus on the passion? Instead of anxiety over deadlines and endless reading lists, why can’t we praise the experience? If we continue studying the way we do, uni will pass and we will end up questioning if it was all just a big waste of time.

When I graduated from my undergraduate degree, I couldn’t remember anything I had learnt. I felt like my three year degree was a one-week course. I suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and hyperactivity (obviously from all that caffeine my body had absorbed). On my graduation day, the rain was pouring, my dress got soaked and my shoes were wet, causing me to slip multiple times on the wooden floors. I wondered how all my hard work had come to all of this.

Instead of accepting the fact that we have been given an opportunity to educate ourselves, we dwell on the hardship. Our efforts may not change the world, but it will definitely change our lives one way or another. So, when I decided to go back to uni and do my honours, I told myself to not make the same mistake. I tried pre-occupying myself with sports (rather than clubbing and drinking) in order to pace my stress levels. Sometimes balance is all we need. Sadly, it didn’t work and by mid-June my panic attacks found me again.

My hairdresser suggested I start meditating. I never really understood the brilliance of meditation, and even today I struggle to take control over my entire mind. I ended up enrolling in a 6-week mediation course to learn the basics. I found the more I attended the classes, the more I wanted to practice specific mediations. I began to stop and take in my situations before rushing through my day. I was able to take five minutes and have them all to myself. Meditation kept my focus away from stressing and more towards learning. Suddenly, time management didn’t seem so bad and I was able to balance everything out and get everything done without my day zooming past.

The truth is it may not be the meditation that allowed me to relax and enjoy my experiences; rather it was the new-ness of meditation itself. I grew up with sports and so my mind could never learn or develop anything from it. As the world of meditation was something I had never encountered before, it gave me an opportunity to shift my focal points in terms of study plans. That is, I trained my brain to shift with time patterns. I knew the exact times that I would dedicate to studying, these were the hours spent stressing, crying and sipping coffee. I had my sleeping time, my party time and, of course, my reading time. Ten minutes a day were dedicated to meditation. This was time management in all its glory.

p/s: I want you all to know that I have not procrastinated since.

By: Branka Prodanovic

PhD student and witty writer on a mission to change the world one word at a time.

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