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The 21-Hour Day

Posted by on Monday, February 24, 2014 in Academics, College Life, Student Life, Studying.

Yesterday marked a milestone for my college career: my first all-nighter.

After a rock-climbing trip with WilSkills, I had 12 hours to research and practice a 9-minute extemporaneous speech for my public speaking class.

There are many excuses I could give as to why I had yet to begin researching for a speech I knew about two and a half weeks in advance, but none of them are very good. This is what happened: Thursday night rolled around, I checked my calendar for the next week, and immediately felt defeated. There it was: “CMST 100 Environmental Speech due.” How could I have forgotten? I was committed, financially and mentally, to the rock-climbing trip, and there was no way I was going to give it up for a grade.

So I proceeded with the trip, trying to tell myself that I could come up with something decent, and that if all else failed, I could always just not sleep.

The thought was a little scary. I depend heavily on sleep. I take naps almost daily, and I get a solid 7-8 hours most nights. How would I forego sleep, especially after an active weekend in the outdoors?

But I did it. I started at 11pm in the Peabody Library with a cup of hot Thai tea and a Clif bar. At 2am the library closed, and I returned to my dorm for another couple of hours of research. When I finally finished a solid outline for my speech, I collapsed into bed, but even then, I couldn’t fall asleep right away.

Yeah, sleeping! (Photo credit to Amy Nguyen.)

I had been awake for 21 hours straight––from 7am when I woke up in a tent in Kentucky, to 4am in my dorm room in Nashville. But I couldn’t sleep, because I was just so darn proud of myself. I did the work I was supposed to do, and I had had an awesome weekend.

The next morning I woke up at 7:15, started timing and practicing my speech, made my speech card, and arrived at class on time. Of course, I skipped my 9am class, had to sprint to the library to print my 4×6″ notecard, and somehow one of my fingers was bleeding, but I still found success.

Cheatgrass, anyone? It's an invasive plant species and I spent a good chunk of my day researching it. (Photo credit to USDA/NRCS.)

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