Marginalia, Graduate Blog

The Home Stretch is the Hardest

Danielle Dwyer

Interviewing Felix Gonzalez for my final TV package on the Chicago Youth Boxing Club.

Interviewing Felix Gonzalez for my final TV package on the Chicago Youth Boxing Club.

Two words: Finals week.

The home stretch.

The end.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

While the Journalism MA program isn’t filled with countless hours of cramming, I mean studying for final exams, it is filled with lots and lots of long nights and final reporting.

It may be the home stretch, but I can reassure you, it’s the hardest stretch.

Now that may be because I know the end is near and “senioritis” symptoms are kicking in—yes, you even face this struggle as a grad student—but it’s also the time when your final presentations, articles and major semester pieces are due. It’s like the capstone piece to the entire semester.

And maybe it seems tougher and more stressful because I add pressure to myself because I want to make this “the best” work I’ve done all spring. I don’t know. What I do know is I am facing what we like to call “the struggle.”

How do you overcome it?

Well, I’ll be honest in saying I went back to read my last blog on overcoming self-doubt. Yes, I needed a reminder and a confidence booster.

You work and work and work and work and work…and work some more…and well, you get the picture. What’s crazy to think is that we know finals week—or weeks of prep and reporting that goes into what you turn in during the last week—is coming. We know it. This isn’t my first rodeo, but I still have yet to “master” the art of going through finals with a moderate stress level.

However, the light is at the end of the tunnel…and it’s near…

In journalism we say, “Walk away.”

Whenever you’re done writing a piece you need to walk away from it. Take a break. And come back to it. Reread it and edit it.

You have to clear your mind. Switch to something else on your to do list, do something fun or nothing at all.

This is the biggest thing I’ve learned to do this semester. Take time for yourself. Enjoy the process to get to the final product and don’t overthink it along the way.

Now I said I’ve learned it, however, I’m still working on executing it, but I’m getting better.

There are times you will think—and say—“There are not enough hours in the day.” And while that may seem true at times, there is always enough time in the day to fit in a little bit of “me time.” Whether it’s five minutes, an hour, more or less, regardless you need to take it. Go on a walk or run. Meet friends for brunch or dinner at a new place. Get your nails done. Shop. Watch a TV show or movie. Sit and meditate. Get fro-yo. Whatever it may be just make sure you do it.

In the end you’ll not only be happy that you did, but you’ll also produce better work.

So tell yourself you can do it, and I will do the same.

And before I know it, I’ll be sinking my toes in the “Philly” sand this summer.

The Home Stretch is the Hardest

Two words: Finals week. The home stretch. The end. The light at the end of the tunnel. While the Journalism MA program isn’t filled with countless hours of cramming, I …

Journalism MA Danielle Dwyer, danielledwyer14@yahoo.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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