Exams, Stress and Anxiety

So after the exams are over and the essays have been handed in, what do you do whilst waiting for your friends to catch up?
If you’re me, you’ll do copious amounts of french revision, read Louisa May Alcott novels and spend an entire day bleaching your kitchen and bathroom.
It’s the post-exam depression or, as I like to call it, distress-withdrawal. The feeling of listlessness following the stressful all-nighters and group studies. Personally, I haven’t been nearly as apprehensive about the exam period as some of my coursemates over the past two months. I’ve alternated finishing my own papers with holding peoples’ hands and offering compliments about their respective intelligences like metaphorical brown paper bags.
The thought had occurred to me that perhaps I wasn’t genius enough to be suffering from this affliction- the full-out mania that precedes the exam period. Perhaps I’m ambivalent about it because I don’t care as much and won’t do as well as my panic-stricken peers. It’s irrelevant really. I can’t teach myself to look at coursework and tests with trepidation. I never have. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Maybe it’s because I realize what a poor reflection of my knowledge they really are. Maybe the thought is just a safety blanket I use to console myself. I won’t know until mid-July anyways so I’m not worried.

I’ve always been fascinated by anxious people. It’s amazing how no amount of coaxing can help them. And what I find even more interesting is how they can remain highly functional in every day life… until the ball drops… at which point all their achievements fade in comparison to an exam that renders them virtually helpless.
Kagan studied temperament and distinguished between highly reactive infants (who exhibited distress when faced with unfamiliar and uncomfortable stimuli), low reactive infants (who were pretty unresponsive) and the inbetweeners. He undertook a longitudinal study that found a correlation between the temperament of the babies and a range of traits including extraversion/nervousness/inhibition in later life which basically rounded out a better understanding of anxiousness and anxiety.
What I like best about that article is the insinuation that anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing. High-strung individuals are meticulous, careful and more likely to be hired by Kagan as research assistants. So maybe it is a good idea to try to stress myself out a little now that I don’t have too much to lose.

I’m off to Belgium next week to visit my aunt and uncle who are stationed in Antwerp to await a work visa to Angola. I don’t know anything about Belgium aside from the fact some of them speak Flemish and that their French Fries are supposedly amazing. I haven’t researched it much either which is surprising of me.

The thought of my dissertation leaves me confused and I find it odd that we’re supposed to settle on a topic before receiving grades from our assessments. What if we chose something we turn out to be rubbish at?
I’m torn between social and economic rights, minorities, gender issues and corporate responsibility… I don’t know what to focus on. I want to talk to a professor about it but feel that I need to narrow down on my choice of topics a little before approaching anyone. I’m hoping this trip will help me clear things up a bit. I have a little less than a month to decide. I’m not anxious about it but the anxiety of others is making me feel that I should be :) Old news.