What’s Your Fix?

It’s 2 a.m. in the morning and you glance at the bottom of your Word document. 1500 words to go in 7 hours, I can do this. But the long day of unengaging classes, standing at work and arguing with your roommate about chores just makes you want to hit the sack. No, I will not be defeated. You head to the fridge and grab your third energy drink. You open the can and hear the drink fizzle, knowing that this is the only resort for you to get through the all-nighter. You take a massive gulp, and feel the cold fizzy rush going down throat. I will power though this.

…  

You disappointingly waddle back to your dorm room with the midterm you expected to have done better on. You study for hours but you just can’t seem to ace anything for this class. The frustration, the disappointment and the confusion overwhelms you. What am I doing wrong? Am I just not cut out for my major? Does my TA hate me? ARGGHH! You reach out for that pint of Ben & Jerry’s you got at the grocery run, hoping that maybe just a bite will soothe the tension. One spoon, two spoons, and as soon as you know it, you’re at the bottom of the tub.

Source: Kaboompics @ Pexels

We’ve all been in one of these situations at some point of time in our university careers – where we turn to something to get over another thing or, as we can broadly call them, a fix. This can typically take the form of what we categorise as “vices”, such as alcohol and Adderall, and even more “harmless” ones like coffee and cookies.

But it isn’t enough to just question our fixes. It is also crucial to ask ourselves why we rely on them, and if they are necessary at all: are we all just bad at managing stress? Or are we just trapped in an endless cycle of pressure that really forces us to turn to our fixes in order to power through?

In the latest episode of our podcast, [in]Tution, UBC student duo Flint and I spoke to Tseday Tegegn (Ph.D Candidate, Dept. of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine) about fixes, the circumstances which drive us to use them and the means by which we justify our own. In so doing, we challenged the popular conception of ‘study drugs’ by departing from ‘socially-accepted’ definitions.

Source: Pixabay @ Pexels

Tseday shared some of her experiences with fixes with us, while reflecting on her stressful undergraduate experience, whereby she was simultaneously studying and working without taking any breaks. She also pondered over her current challenging career as a doctoral candidate in the medical field. We delved into a discussion regarding the consequences of our fixes and their relative trade-offs, touching upon the social and cultural factors that force us to succumb to our stressors in the process.

After about an hour of insightful discussion, we came to this conclusion: everyone has a fix and it is completely normal. What matters is that we recognize that each of us experiences different challenges and that we cope with them differently. Recognizing this humbles us and it also allows us to better empathize with others. It forces us to consider that perhaps our coping mechanism aren’t something to be ashamed of and that it could transform into a form that is deemed more or less healthy.

So what’s your fix? Do you think yours is harmless? Where do you draw the line between what’s harmful and what’s not?

Comment below or tweet at us at @UBCLearn!

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