At the end of a semester, students invariably face ‘The Lull’. That period of waiting for results of assessments and exams and the all-important ‘Fail’ or ‘Pass’ of subjects…hopefully the latter. It seems to be the same for any subject, in any course at any level of education. We spend what can be weeks in a constant state of background anxiety and only one thing can abate it: the result.
The Lull has its emotions set in a particular part of our brain that seems unaffected by good news, celebrations, or well-wishing. Nothing removes it entirely until that moment where you see the actual word “Pass” or similar adorning your transcript. You may know deep down that you have done well enough to pass, that your assignments were good, the exam went well and you’ve never come close to failing in the past, but it doesn’t matter, you need it written. The Lull is even worse if you’re on the borderline of passing and the final assessment means make or break. Students in this exacerbated form of The Lull are almost beyond treatment.
The major symptom of The Lull is a constant level of background anxiety. It can only be ignored for short periods, but is certain to resurface. As with any kind of anxiety, physiological symptoms can present, particularly immediately before the release of results, when you know you are about to discover your fate. These symptoms range from basic nervous tremors right through to palpitations and the like. The Lull can result in a form of distractedness as you contemplate the worst case scenario and what you will do if it comes about. While this sort of planning seems quite useful to have in your mind, just in case, it seems to compound into a messy collection of ill fates that extend far into the future where you’re living in a caravan in your parents’ backyard eating 2-minute noodles.
Students bogged in the unavoidable Lull often use various forms of distraction to relieve symptoms. Partying of course is a common technique, using alcohol, loud music and the company of friends to mask the nagging from the back of your mind. This works wonderfully for the night but the feeling comes back almost immediately the next morning, often accompanied by a hangover. Immersion in housework, exercise or hobbies also happens regularly. Some people have been know to perform at their best in these activities during The Lull.
Students inevitably bring up the subject of their marks and studies in most conversations with friends and family, even if it’s just in passing. When students discuss The Lull with other students, a long and complex conversation takes place where each vents their feelings to the other hoping the chat will relieve symptoms. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case, but students will nevertheless try again and again.
The only cure for The Lull is the result. Obviously a pass is the preferred result, but even a fail can cure The Lull, which, of course is the whole reason for The Lull in the first place. There is no avoiding it, it happens to all who study anything and it does not get any better as studies continue.
For all those in The Lull at the moment, stay strong, happy, distracted and positive. Good luck!