Helpful advice from an “academic addict”

I AM AN ADDICT. I discovered that this weekend when I found myself in desperate need of a fix.

I was camping with family and friends and wasn’t sure if it was going to be possible. But like any good addict, I had planned ahead.
Stashed in my gear were a laptop and a manila folder of documents.

In an effort to prepare myself for an impending summer without classes, I have decided to join AA: Academics Anonymous.

The first step to recovery is to admit that you are an addict and that your life has become unmanageable. So here, I freely admit the world at large and to myself that I am addicted to school. I am addicted to academics. And it has made my life unmanageable.

I find myself spending what used to be free time reading, highlighting and note taking. I spend too much time alone and I ignore friends when in the thrall of study.

In step two, we must believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. Here I call on the greatest power of all — television.

And I pray that months of summer boredom will lull me into remembering calmer, carefree days.

In step three addicts must make a decision to turn their will and lives over to God. Admittedly this process will be difficult for a less than religious person such as myself, however knowing that the delicious rush of finals will soon be behind me, I acquiesce.

As a part of the fourth step, addicts must make a searching and moral inventory of themselves. Here I will admit to making flashcards when they weren’t necessary in a prideful effort to seem like I am more of a devoted student than others. I will also disclose that I gluttonously look up big words in the dictionary to seem smarter when I play hangman.

In step five, addicts must admit to God, themselves and others the exact nature of their wrongs. I admit here and now, before God, myself and readers that I procrastinate on papers until the night before they are due for the sprint of trying to make it to class on time.

In step six, addicts must be ready for God to remove “defects of character.”

God, I am ready for a solid eight hours of sleep, so yes, I am ready for this defect to be removed.

Step seven is an extension of six, in which we humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. “God, I humbly ask you to remove my need to study all night long, my need to destroy forests for rough drafts and lined 3×5 cards and my need to get up early to polish projects.”

As a part of step eight, we must make a list of those we have harmed and be willing to make amends to them. I have harmed: my friends for not spending time with them; my family for rejecting them in favor of Internet research; and my professors for producing papers that reach the upper echelons of their page limits.

Step nine order that we make direct amends whenever possible. So I hereby swear that my next paper will use 1-inch margins to make it appear shorter rather than using the 1.25-inch margins that are set as the default in Microsoft Word.

In step 10 we must continue to take inventory of ourselves and admit when we are wrong. When I am wrong I will let you know.

Step 11 gets increasingly difficult as it requires us to improve our conscious contact with God. However it says that contact can be fostered through prayer and mediation. I am hoping yoga class is close enough.

And in the final step, we are to have spiritual awakening in which we carry the messages we have learned to others.

This is why, I am warning you all, that now, right before the onset of months without school, is the time to heal.

The time to give up all self-imposed stress and worry.

The Dean’s list is almost as good as the President’s list and no one looks at your transcripts anyway.

Admit to your weaknesses, sell back your books and give up the clandestine life of an over achiever.

If I can do it, anyone can.

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