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What we can learn from the inevitable April struggles, panic attacks and lack of motivation

April is a lot like riding a bike, except you must analyze the route you're taking, and the bike is on fire and the road is on fire, and everything is on fire.

Photo illustration done Monday, April 25, 2016.
Photo illustration done Monday, April 25, 2016.

If you know an ASU student, give them a hug this month.

For the world’s general population, April is characterized by taxes, which can be stressful. But if you’re an ASU student, April is the one month all year when “dropping out and becoming a stripper” stops being a silly tweet — and becomes a reasonable thought.

At least at ASU, April is the final month of classes on campus. Around this time, professors begin over-assigning material that “they didn’t have time to get to in class,” and it is there that the academic ocean starts to stir.

March was the calm before the storm with Spring Break and a few random days off.

Come the first of April, reality began to set in. Exam dates suddenly appeared way too close together, homework became impossible to keep up with and sleeping felt more reasonable than going to class.

Taking a single step on an ASU campus this month feels a little like entering an alternate dimension. Some students are smiling through caffeine enhanced panic attacks, and others are barely awake shuffling through a cloud of severe confusion and depression on the way to class. Regardless of the way students are coping, most of them will still tell you that living through the month of April as a college student is incredibly similar to dying and going to hell.

I agree; I really do. April is killing me. I have way too much to do, and even if I had the time to do it all, I have no motivation to even try anymore. Last week, I was at a point of such sheer anxiety and depression that I just stopped. I didn’t go to class, I didn’t go to work — I just slept.

After a long talk with my best friend and catching up on everything I missed in a sleepless 48-hour window, I came to an important realization.

Finals Week - Spoken Word by Stefan Vandenkooy from Daniel Robinson on Vimeo.

They have always told us that college is going to be so stressful. They expect us to have these mental breakdowns, and tell us that it's not only normal, but also OK to be practically dying toward the end of the semester. While we should really work toward learning how to cope better with our present situations, we can accept those expectations as a reality.

However, this terrible time in my life has presented a very unique opportunity. I have realized that I can either continue to float through my days pretending I have no responsibilities, or I can attack them head on. I can go ahead and hide in my dorm room, or I can get my work done, get to class and beat April.

I mean, when we’re done here, it’s not like we can just press pause if we get stressed out. At least in college the repercussions for crumbling under pressure normally amount to a bad grade, not to the loss of income or family.

April sucks, that is true. But unfortunately, life isn't always pretty. Use April as a dry run for the future. Wake up, get dressed, grab a coffee and live your life. Embrace the challenge, don’t cower before it. 

Related links:

How to beat stress

Students should aim for optimal stress level

Reach the columnist at or follow @KPenningroth on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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