All-nighters. We all go through them at some point; some of us more than others. Recalling a recent experience of my own, I would like to outline the following phases of the typical all-nighter:
False hope part one: Delusion that you are going to actually accomplish everything on your double-sided to-do list. You will say to yourself, “Yo, I got this, it’s all good — It’s not that bad, I can get this done” — basically giving yourself a pep talk to prepare for the pain you are about to endure.
“But I must do this first” phase: Write down another to-do list and work schedule for the night — after all, you cannot study without a solid study plan. You quickly realize you have other tasks to attend to before your mind is clear enough for actual studies — it’s Facebook time. You check your email; read junk you don’t care about on Facebook, imgur, xkcd, reddit and Twitter; make a UR meme or two; and make the additional mistake of skimming Tumblr.
One hour later:
Find a friend and talk about how much work you have to do phase: Complain to a random friend about the ridiculous amounts of work you have to do. Reminisce together about the good times and how you just need to go out together this weekend. Open Photobooth on your Mac and proceed to take ridiculous pictures of yourself making duck faces while awkwardly catching fellow students in the background. Conversation will go on a tangent to an in-depth discussion of life, relationships and existentialism. You do not immediately feel guilty — after all, some of the best conversations come out of a time like this.
One to two hours later:
Denial phase: Denial that you are going to actually finish the assignment, pass the class or do anything meaningful and good with your life. Guilt and anxiety set in and you start fantasizing about all of the alternative possibilities: “I should just save all of this ridiculous tuition money and drop out to join a theatre troupe, live in Africa and save the children, protest, live in my car, start a band, see the world…”
Work: And so the work begins. You pound a coffee and crank out a solid chapter of your reading, review a lecture or maybe finish up WeBWorK. You feel like you’re on top of the world and are pretty confident that you have at least earned a stroll to the drinking fountain.
Crazy part one: You return to your secluded desk by the writing center, the unbearably warm periodicals, the scary silent Great Hall, the creepy 500M stack or wherever you have set up camp until 3 a.m. You sit down with the good intention of returning to work, but instead uncontrollable giddiness sets in. You realize just how hungry you are and start to devour the now three-hour-old Panda Express remains and eat the rest of the Starbucks ice from your drink in the hope of extracting the last few bits of caffeine. You feel the urge to look up random videos about dancing squirrels, revisit music from the ’90s and take up origami. It seems as though your inner self has left your body and is observing your ridiculous behavior, but can do nothing to control it. You do not let this harm your morale though, for this “study drunk” will soon pass.
False hope part two: You have made the switch to ITS or Gleason and are hoping that the new environment provides new inspiration and motivation. Resume work.
Crazy part two: You may have been study drunk before, but you have passed your limit and are a permanent passenger on the struggle bus.
Nap time: Clearly you need to sleep off the crazies and plan on napping for twenty minutes — power naps work wonders. Three hours later, you wake up to the sound of the vacuum cleaner by your face and intense self-loathing.
The home stretch: Wipe the drool from your face, open your laptop or book and angrily power through the rest of your work. Pure adrenaline from your approaching deadline or exam and self-disgust over the fact that you just wasted two to three hours of precious time sleeping in an ugly and uncomfortable green chair kick your work ethic into high gear.
Finish all that you can do. Accept probable failure.
Down coffee. Turn in paper or take exam. Skip class. Pass out.
Kennedy is a member of the class of 2014.