A snapshot of Stauffer at midterms

Merits of people-watching in a building full of stressed-out students

Sometimes, nothing is more distracting to a studious student than other studious students.
Sometimes, nothing is more distracting to a studious student than other studious students.

On a small campus like Queen’s, there is always a sense of expected unexpectedness when you happen to see the same people every day. It always happens when you come to find your place on campus, where you feel completely comfortable, yet it surprises you when you notice other people have stumbled across the same niche.

For instance, in this midterm-crammed, essay-packed, assignment-jammed stage of my life, the library has become a second home to me. And it’s come to the point where I’ve started to feel a sort of nerdy connection with my library floormates. It’s a connection bred from the realization that they all are thinking the same thing, which goes along the lines of: “Why didn’t I start working earlier? Why do I not understand this? Why is my wireless connection dying on me? Why does my professor want to kill me? Why am I in this course? Why am I in university? WHY IS LIFE TRYING TO STEAL MY SOUL AWAY FROM ME?”

But there are the little differences between your library floormates that make you love and hate them at the same time.

There’s the sleeper—the one lounging on the cushy couches valiantly fighting the sleep-inducing agents of textbook drivel. Amused, you laugh—but inside, you know that could be you, two hours from now.

Next, there’s the dude playing computer games on his laptop. Captivated by full-screen high-definition graphics, cool bomb, gun and death special effects and oddly shaped main characters coated in armor, the player has lost contact with the rest of the world.

You may think it’s geeky, but wasn’t it just an hour ago, that you spent 45 minutes playing spider solitaire, determined to win at least 10 games in a row?

Then there’s the couple. The “into-each-other” couple stealing kisses between textbook chapters makes you a) annoyed by the cheesiness of it all b) a little bit—though you’d never admit it to anyone you know—pathetically envious of how damn cute they are c) completely bewildered as to how the heck they manage to get any work done.

And then there’s the one who’s impossible to forget—the sniffer/cougher/throat clearer. She annoys the hell out of you. Didn’t you come to the library to get some peace and quiet? Shouldn’t it be one of the few sacred places where people should just not make noise? And then you develop a runny nose/cough/throat itch. Now you know how it feels.

All this makes you wonder: which category do you fall into? Sure, there are a lot more categories, and maybe—though unlikely—you’re not as annoying as your peers. But how do we ever really know? It’s a strange feeling to realize that people may judge you, just as you may judge them.

What’s even stranger is what happens when you’re having a bad day, the world is getting you down and someone bumps into you. You’re instantly incensed. Can’t that person walk in a straight line? What’s their problem? Don’t they know you’re pissed off?

But they don’t. And strangely enough, they might be thinking the exact same thing.

So although it’s hard to think straight or to dwell on anything but failing your midterm, messing up your assignments, and moping about how tough your life is, stop and think outside that box for a second. I’m not saying pull a Dr. Phil and try to psychoanalyze everyone you pass, but by just realizing that everyone’s in the same situation, you can breathe a little easier.

After all, if everyone’s as stressed as you, maybe you won’t fail, and will do brilliantly instead, because of the beauty that is the bell curve.

Word on the street is that people-watching is the new addictive form of procrastination. At least it’s healthier than consuming copious amounts of sugar and caffeine.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.