Upon panicking about the deadline for this article, I came to terms with the danger of panic itself.
Everyone knows that in an emergency, be it in a movie or in reality, the first thing someone is bound to do is flail their arms around and blurt out in a frantic voice, “Stay calm! Don’t panic!”
Unsurprisingly, people usually panic anyway, instigating further unrest and waves of unreasonable fear.
A dictionary definition of panic marks its meaning as “a sudden, overwhelming fear, often affecting many people at once.” It is commonly believed that panic spreads like an epidemic and while I agree that group panic is a dilemma worthy of avoiding, I think individual panic can be just as destructive.
One man’s flip out is contagious to another person (unless he is a Buddhist monk, I suppose) and no matter how reasonable and calm the neighbor may be, the negative effects of panic will somehow seep into even the most optimistic people with rays of sun shining out of their asses.
Take for instance, the stress and panic that will begin to permeate the student body as finals week comes ‘round the bend. It is personally mildly entertaining for me to see how people act in the days, hours and minutes before an exam or a paper deadline.
There are those, for example, for whom “exam week” is synonymous with “panic-fest.” These are the people who spend more time the night before an exam updating their Facebook every hour with the heartfelt and informative “FML it’s exam week!” updates than taking the time to rationally prepare for the actual event.
They hover around the exam room minutes prior to the test and scurry around in a frenzied attempt to cram in as much test material as possible at the penultimate hour. They somehow manage to make people around them worry about the unknown, even if they are fairly certain in their capabilities, knowledge and preparation for that same test.
The opposite of those students are those who stand on the side of the hallway chiding, “If you don’t know the material by now, just face it, you don’t know it.”
These are the students who consider themselves fully prepared for the test, so much so that they are calmly answering questions for the aforementioned stress-ridden students looking to absorb every bit of unstudied information.
Because of this sort of confidence or at least resignation, these students avoid the pre-exam panic and probably will have less grey hair when they are older.
I’ve realized that the quickest and healthiest remedy for common, non-medical panic is confidence. Confidence in oneself, one’s beliefs, reality, and the fact that nothing is the end of the world will ameliorate the roots of hysteria.
Panicking about what to write for this issue has surely gotten me nothing except six half-written columns, a spaghetti of thoughts jumbled up in my head and a conclusion that I suck at writing. Regrettably, I have also complained to friends and potentially ruined the happy mood of my sister over the phone.
So with five minutes to deadline, I can conclude with great conviction that irrational fear leads to nothing but further negative outcomes. In politics, panic makes citizens vulnerable to coercion and blurs sensible decision-making; in crowds, panic causes violence; and in college, panic leads to failure.
Plus, in movies, the hysterical people always die first.