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When the Tides Are High
[ Issue 126 Page 7 ] Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 20:19:56 Manisha manisha@kaist.ac.kr
Midterm exams ended just a week ago, but it seems like final exams are here already. After a poor performance on the midterms, people like myself are all geared up to give their best for the finals. I promise to myself, “I will study diligently every single day and try to cover all that was taught in class.” But on most of the days, I fall behind my expectations.
Some tips I had actually considered worthy of being followed earlier were to chalk out a study plan, make a time table, and devise a list of things to be done over the week. Even after a sincere attempt to implement all of these, I saw that I kept missing out on some task that I was supposed to do. What could be the explanation behind this? How do you finish that massive load of homework to be submitted in a week after reading a chapter of 60 pages and solving some 70 odd textbook exercise problems? The course itself interests you tremendously; you want to stop and stare at its beauty and intuition, but you need to move ahead because the deadline for the next homework is already nearing.
I stare at my clock, the only source of sound in my room, and it shows me 3:00 a.m. Should I go to sleep? But I had plans to study, and I have another article for The KAIST Herald to finish; I straighten my back, flex my muscles a little bit, drink some water, and get started again. I have a morning class tomorrow, but I should finish at least some work to reduce my already overloaded timetable, and invoke the last dregs of energy and thoughts to put down a few words on this document.
Most of us here in KAIST have a similar or even busier life than what I had just described to you. It has definitely brought out my potential to struggle harder and harder, and to pace myself with the wings of time that fly away faster than the blink of an eye. Being at KAIST, we have so many expectations from ourselves - we want to stand out with our efforts and see the happiness on the faces of our parents when they see us performing so well after beating down all the obstacles. While all of us are reeling under this immense pressure of performing, we need sources of joy and cheer to brighten ourselves up.
What is most important is to build up the strength in you: a strength that even if you fall 100 times, you rise up with renewed energy for the 101st time! And where can you find this strength? For me, it dwells in the joyful voice of my parents when I call them after a week. It dwells in the unnerving faith and love in the hearts of our loved ones and friends. Even when the path seems dreary and you cannot see a flicker of a light, the warmth of your loved ones is enough to keep you going. And most importantly, self-esteem is something we cannot afford to lose. Your heart saying, “I can do it!” can help you rise up even after you stumbled numerous times.
A voice softly echoes in my head, rejuvenating and encouraging me to keep going when the tides are high and waves are strong.
“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

With finals just a few weeks away, this is what I would like to say: do not give up because as the proverb says, “It is always darkest before dawn.” When the going gets difficult, never quit because you might be just one step away from your victory. 

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