The Stresses of Starting a New Term
Every semester, I worry about time. How much time I’ll need to spend on homework, whether or not I’ll have time to play my guitar, or if I’ll get the time to do my homework or read a book on a Sunday afternoon. The week before the term starts, I make plans to “set aside time” for non-school activities, saying that I’ll take things week by week, assignment by assignment, and this time I’ll be really, really good at managing my homework to free-time ratio. But as soon as the semester starts, I realize that all that thinking about “setting aside time” was just a way to calm myself down.
I make guesses about things, like whether or not a class will be easy or difficult, if the material will be fun or dull, or what the syllabus will be like. But the truth of the matter is that I never know if any of these guesses are anywhere near right, and I don’t know until the classes start. The not knowing is what really bothers me. I have expectations, and when they’re way off base, I get scared, and start to freak out.
There are the things that I have expectations about, and then there are things that I have no expectations for whatsoever, and I worry about these things, too. For instance, the instructor’s personality and teaching style. I take a lot of online classes through Mid-Plains, so navigating the stormy waters of communicating with a difficult teacher over the Internet can by stressful. In some cases, the teacher seems to not comprehend technology, and can’t open an attachment in an email or download a file. Or sometimes, the teacher isn’t a good communicator, and doesn’t explain assignments clearly. In those situations when the assignments are vague, I feel like there’s a 50/50 chance that I’ll get a good grade on a project.
But, on the other hand, there are also some exceptional instructors, and very easy to work with in an online environment, and in person.
Tomorrow I’ll be taking my first set of in-person classes on campus at Mid-Plains. I’m sitting in my living room tonight writing this article, and to be honest, I’m about ready to explode from nerves. My cat is sitting beside me, every once and a while nudging my arm with her head, as if to say that everything will be fine, and I’ll know what to do when the time comes. I give her a little pet-pet, and I rehearse the mantra in my head, “I’ll know what to do when the time comes. I’ll know what to do when the time comes.”
When the “time” is, I have no idea, but I’ll know what to do when it gets here.
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