The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 40.0°F | Partly Cloudy and Breezy

COLUMN

Don’t Let Stress Hit You

Veena Thomas

I was unbelievably stressed out the Tuesday before spring break. Originally, I had a 5.60 exam, an 8.02 exam, and an 18.03 exam all scheduled for Wednesday, March 17. Because of numerous complaints, the 5.60 exam was rescheduled for the night of the 16th. I wasn’t sure if this was a blessing or a curse. I no longer had three exams on the same day, but now I had one less day to study for 5.60.

So the 16th found me in my dorm room, frantically studying. I tried to eat lunch as I looked over 5.60, but I was too stressed to even chew. Three tests in two days were more than I could handle. My dad called somewhere in the middle of my stress/study session. I could hardly decide if I was glad he called to provide a much-needed break, or if the phone call would just cut into my study time. He told me that he had called to see how I was doing with studying. I realized how glad I was to talk to him, and I told him how I was feeling. He reassured me that I should just try my best, and that if I didn’t do so well, life would go on, and that the consequences weren’t so bad. He reminded me that as a freshman, all I had to do was pass. His words comforted me a little bit. But not totally convinced, I set off to take the 5.60 exam.

I thought the 5.60 test went well, but I still worried on my walk back. As I waited for the light to change so I could cross Mass. Ave., my mind was on both that test and the long night I had ahead of me, studying for the next two. I looked around idly, but the road was almost deserted. When I heard the familiar “bee-boo” signal, I started to cross the street, focused on the other side. I thought I heard some strange sound to the right of me. Luckily, I turned my head to see what it was. A white Jeep, about 20 feet away from me in the shoulder of the road, was reversing at full speed through the red light, and it was headed straight towards me.

Not even having time to think, I ran to escape its collision course. When I somewhat safely reached the middle of the road, I turned to observe the Jeep still reversing erratically until it reached the light on the opposite side, which was still red. Unfortunately I was too shaken up by the incident to take note of the license plate number of the idiot who almost ran me over. I finished crossing the street as a few others and myself looked at each other in disbelief of what we had just seen. Someone said to me, “Wow, you were almost flattened.” Too stunned to digest what really had just happened, I kind of tried to make light of the situation, and agreed. But as I slowly walked to my dorm, the full implications of the event hit me (no pun intended). I could have been seriously injured or killed. That could have been the end... while crossing Mass. Ave. stressing about my exams. That could have been it. My last thoughts would have been about getting good grades on my tests. That’s no way to die.

Like everyone else, I had heard the stereotypical “make the most out of life” speech more times than I can count. It’s never rung so clear as it did that night. I wasn’t prepared to say goodbye to the world that night, yet a few feet closer, a few seconds later, and that could have been the case. But is anyone ever prepared to say goodbye? For more than 18 years of existence to have been taken away suddenly, at that moment, seems unthinkable.

This whole incident was ironic because there I was, upset about the work load and how awful things were going and how stressed out I was, when my life was almost cut short. The one thing I was complaining about almost disappeared. Only a few hours before I had been worrying about entropy and enthalpy, but now I was upset at what could have been the end. Academics are not worth stressing about to the degree that many others and I have at times. Life is much too precious to spend worrying about trivial details. If you must stress, worry about whether or not you are living your life to the fullest extent possible. Life can be taken away at any moment, prepared or not, and, in the words of Kansas, “All your money won’t another minute buy... all we are is dust in the wind.”