As I have previously mentioned, comps does many things. Among those things, it gives you perspective.
It gives you perspective about your friends. Who is really going to be there to cook you dinner at the end of the day when you can barely make eye contact and talking about anything that’s not theatre history is simply out of the question? Who is going to not be offended that you haven’t called/been to a party/replied to text messages for the last few months because you’ve been swallowed into the oblivion of studying? Who is going to understand when you just need to sit and stare at the wall/cry/talk out an idea that they have no possible way to contribute to? Who is going to respond to the rally of “I need to not be in my house tonight, but I don’t have any energy to expend socially”?
It gives you perspective about your life. Can you ever really say that you’re having a stressful day ever again? Or a bad day for that matter?
It gives you perspective about what you can and cannot handle and what you can and cannot do. I, for instance, am never going to say that I don’t have enough time to complete x assignment again without some serious thought about what I managed to do in four-days with my take-home exam. I have a better idea of my own limits both emotionally and intellectually.
Most pertinent to my everyday life and writing, however, is this: it gives you perspective about books. I have a brand new notion of how big a “big” book is, or how many books is “a lot” of books. What this really means is that my perspective is skewed. I sat down, for instance, to write about how I should be doing some research right now and sorting through the “large pile of books” that I brought home from the library today. But looking at it? It’s not that big.
…it’s really not my fault that, at my peak this summer, I was reading 5-7 books in a day and, thereby, a stack of 8 books no longer looks insurmountable, right? Somehow, this newfound regard for the amount of research that I am capable of is somewhat dehumanizing. If I can really pound through that many books in a day, then what does it say on days when I don’t? Days when I’m working at my usual speed rather than ridiculous comps-speed?
The psychological aftershock of this process is something that I’m going to be dealing with for some time now. Also; I’m not even really done yet. I still have orals to get through.
No rest for the weary.