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Last Thursday, I finished my second to last year of college. My last two finals consisted of a bullshit test (online, of course) and a paper that turned into a 30-page monstrosity. Couple that with all of the other exams involved, and the inevitable shitshow that is partying with all your graduate-to-be buddies, and I find myself lying in bed well after my usual 8 a.m. rise and shine. I’m experiencing the worst hangover a student can, and no, it doesn’t involve a handle of whiskey or waking up next to a questionable woman. It involves a complete purge of all mental ability amd the pressing feeling that I’m forgetting something. The post-finals hangover is in full effect, and it is a doozy.
Unlike your everyday hangover (not that I’m hungover every day), the post-finals hangover isn’t something that a bacon sandwich and a breakfast beer can fix, although they won’t particularly hurt. It’s a different sort of low, the equivalent of being hit by the semester train pretty much all at once. Whether or not you had a test bank, took pedestrian classes, or actually worked your ass off to succeed, I’d argue this brand of hangover is mostly a matter of going full vegetable in a short amount of time. One second you’re pounding out a whale of a paper, and the next you’re a carrot who can’t remember which remote is for the TV and which is for the speaker system. Your mental state is in a serious funk, and it’s not changing anytime soon.
It’s likely due in part to immediately switching from being perpetually stressed, the result of knowing how important education is and wanting a job that doesn’t require mowing lawns someday, to a feeling of euphoria that involves singing a lot of Tom Petty and relishing your newly-rediscovered sense of freedom. Follow that up with a few too many Busch Lights, then add waking up and feeling like you have a million things to do into the mix. Then, much like a chronic masturbator following a tragic tryst with a hot tub’s jets, you realize you have nothing to do. Zilch. Nada. You realize that all the time you should have spent planning a summer full of fun or gainful employment was spent in the classroom, doing homework, at your shit job, or drinking yourself into oblivion for the chance to get a stinky pinky from Used-Up Sue. Even hindsight thinks it’s pretty commendable, and hindsight is usually a dick.
Unfortunately, commendable or not, you find yourself stuck in first week limbo. “I know, I’ll just chill for now, probably sleep too much, and really relax for a change.” Sure, if that’s the standard you want to set for the next few months, go right ahead. Just keep in mind, hindsight is going to be making fun of you in front of girls when you put on 20 pounds and your dad bod goes full uncle. That first week is your key to bouncing back and preventing your post-finals hangover from taking over your entire summer.
As cliché as it sounds, making a list of stuff you want to accomplish over summer vacation is a great way to get the blood flowing again. For me, it’s figuring out the perfect BBQ sauce recipe and probably losing a couple pounds in the middle. Mixing two things I enjoy, pork and not being a (complete) piece of shit, is a good enough way to keep the juices flowing. People in limbo are like old cars; if they just sit around, they fall to pieces. Keeping your engine running is the post-finals hangover parallel to a little hair of the dog that bit you. If you’re like me and still have time for schooling, nothing’s going to shoot you into what’s next like revving your motor a little. Of course, just like with any other hangover, the best remedy is time and fluids. Time, not “time spent in bed groaning” and fluids, not “olive oil because I ran out of lotion and there’s a reason I’ve been groaning in bed for a week,” will eventually get your headspace 100 percent straight again.
For now, though, keep your head down and avoid overcrowded places. Naturally, that rule doesn’t apply if you just graduated, in which case do whatever the fuck you want. That new job starts in a week, so just remember to shine your shoes and turn up the Tom Petty..