Mid-term Syndrome Part I: Nightmares


The fight for my academic life was about to start and it caught me totally unprepared.

A constricting fear in my chest numbed my struggling heart to an icy lump. The realization of how close the mid-term exam was about to sink its jaws into me sent a chill down my spine. Then the adrenaline kicked in, the fight-or-flight response activated. A rush of molten lead rushed through my veins and I found myself gasping every breath of air as if it were my last. I fought off an insane urge to laugh at my pathetic predicament but couldn’t quite contain the wave of nervous energy that drenched me and left me trembling with anticipation. Sadly, my fight-or-flight response might have been great at dealing with sabre-toothed tigers, but against the inevitability of a mid-term, it’s worse than useless.

Sometimes I envy our stone-age ancestors; back then, “mid-terms” wasn’t even in their vocabulary.

I know I should’ve been ready, should’ve had better preparation than this, but those regrets were of little help to me now.  As I blundered my way through the questions, the realization began to dawn upon me: I was going to have my backside handed to me. The textbook chapters I hastily scanned last night now seemed to be such a pathetic effort—there were probably enough holes in my understanding to allow a herd of elephants to pass through. One question after another cut mercilessly through my pathetic defences and scattered my wits into the four corners of the world. The anxiety, despair, and the denial simmered into red-hot desperation, displacing all thoughts from my mind. The folly of my procrastination struck me with such force that that I plunged right into the abyss of bleak panic.

Then, the sound of my alarm clock pierced through the haze of the dream and dragged me back to reality. Kicking the smothering blankets aside, gasping with light-headed relief, I sat up on my bed, and let the realization sink in:

Wow, that nightmare almost blew my mental fusebox.

Thirty minutes later, I checked my calendar, just to be sure, and sighed in relief: still a week left until the mid-term. Knowing that I’m probably vaccinated against any form of procrastination for the week, I perched on the edge of my chair and begun crunching books.


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