You made it through the semester. Be kind to yourself.

One of the interesting things about working in the library is being able to walk through the library every day and see all the different college experiences happening daily. Throughout the years of being here, we get to witness the ebbs and flows of library use by students as they progress through the semester. It seems that at the beginning of the semester, the library is bustling with excitement because everyone is new in their courses. As the semester progresses, I notice a slight drop off in enthusiasm and the library has a little more seating available. Then, by the end of the semester, the library is usually packed with exhausted students that are working on projects or studying for finals. Regardless of how many people are in the library, one thing remains apparent to me every semester – you can feel the stress level of students by just walking through the crowds.

Person in a button-up shirt leaning back in the corner of two walls. They are covered in blue and yellow sticky notes and seem tired or overwhelmed. These sticky notes have hand drawn images and words, some symbols being the money sign, heart, a house with a question mark. Some of the words are "Take a Break," "Eat," "Chill," and "Work."

After being out of school for a while, I might have romanticized the end of semesters and suppressed the memories of how stressful the end of semesters actually are. It’s easy to think, “It’s so exciting. The semester is almost done, just have to wrap everything up then there is a nice little break waiting.” When, the reality is that typically students, faculty, and staff are often concerned about the pressure of wrapping things up on time. Getting those assignments that have been looming all semester done, submitting that project that had a deadline by the end of the semester, and making sure that students are ready for their next semester are all areas of stress. Not to mention that feeling that I call “phantom stress” – that feeling of residual stress that lingers even though the work is submitted. 

For graduating students, the stress mentioned is compounded by the sometimes-overwhelming sense of the unknown. “What happens after graduation? What happens if I can’t find a job? Do I apply to a graduate program or get a job? Are student loan collectors going to pounce?” These intrusive thoughts can easily overshadow what should be an exciting time that showcases an incredible achievement.

In higher education, the end of semesters can be stressful for everyone. I realize as I’m writing this that everything I just mentioned sounds pretty bleak; however, it’s important to recognize that the work that is being done on this island is truly incredible. All the stress and hard work is furthering intellectual development across disciplines. Regardless of what role you play in this system, be kind to yourself. You’ve made it through another semester and that is something to celebrate. There are resources such as the library’s Brain Breaks guide that can help distract from the stress, vent about the semester, motivate you for next semester, or even challenge your puzzle-solving skills with a virtual escape room.

Joe Hernandez

Collections Analyst, Resource Management & Discovery

Scrabble letters placed in the order to spell, "Pause, Breathe, Resume."

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