Desperation is fearlessness. Desperation is courage. Desperation is resolve. Desperation is playing hooky to finish off university apps.

Desperation comes from many things. It comes from sleeping in, slacking off, fooling around. It comes from the television, the internet, the opera house. It comes from tight deadlines and loose attention spans. This is the first law of desperation: ceteris paribus, time wasted is directly proportional to desperation experienced at 2AM.

A good student is invariably a desperate one. It marks him like disease. Observe his symptoms: high grades, raccoon eyes, caffeine. They are hidden well, but the caffeine gives it away. It is the tell-all. Don’t be fooled by a first glance. The absence of Tim Hortons or 7-11 is to be expected. Good students are more careful than that. Look for a thermos or a travel mug—that is where they hide their drug. Pay attention when the owner reaches for another hit. Give a furtive sniff in his direction. Coffee has a distinct, perhaps pungent, odour.

If the smell does not come, remain suspicious. He is smarter than the rest. Squint at his beverage container; look for a bit of string. No, he has ripped it off—how clever he is! As he leaves after class, watch him carefully. Does he shake his thermos over the trash? If so, you have caught him. If not, be certain that he will dispose of it elsewhere. Consider surprising him in French.

Why is he so keen to hide his desperation? Authorities do not take kindly to desperation. Parents do not approve of desperation. Stern physics teachers do not approve of desperation. It smacks of inefficiency and poor responsibility. They are always on the hunt for desperation. It is the weakness they seek in their prey. Once they know it is there, the student is lost. They tear at him with sharp words. They lecture him into oblivion. And that is why the good student must hide it. He must substitute his coffee for odourless tea. He must bring his laptop to bed and work under covers. He must caffeinate to keep alert. His cause grows ever more desperate. This is the second law of desperation: like entropy, desperation increases within a closed system.

But the desperate student is not alone. He has twenty-nine equally desperate comrades. Desperation is a symbiotic relationship. Desperation trades rough drafts at two in the morning. Desperation shouts, “Test me and I’ll test you!” on the bus. Desperation double-checks answers after a test. Desperation says, “Don’t worry, I suck at math too,” even if he got the highest mark in AP Calculus. Desperation believes sugary lies.

Desperation is stronger than friendship. Friendship is a bond between people who like each other. Desperation brings everyone together. Being desperate is more relatable than being friendly. As the saying goes, we’re all in the same boat.

It’s called the Titanic.