I am struggling. I’m currently ‘enjoying’ my Easter holidays, the last Easter holidays that I will ever have (unless I go into teaching but that’s highly unlikely). I spend my days looking at my notebook, filled with a year’s worth of notes on all things Film Studies, and thinking, “I should really start writing those 10,000 words.” I only have six assignments left to hand in before my university career is over and, currently, I am doing nothing about it. I think about it a lot. Oh yes, I think about it. But the fear of the white blank page is rearing its ugly head again and I am struggling. Where do I begin? Which assignment is most important? Do I do the ‘fun’ ones first or the more difficult and time-consuming ones? HELP ME.
I had dreams of really focusing this year. “It’s my last year,” I thought, “I’ve got to make it count.” I thought that I would be able to trick my brain into wanting to write essays. Boy, was I wrong!
I confuse myself.
You see, I love learning. I get a real kick out of knowing stuff. The more informed I am, the happier I am. I spend a lot of time reading and researching fancy things on the internet. I like to be in the know.
Take this into consideration when I tell you that I am not the biggest fan of education.
I was bored of school by the time I got to my GCSE years, but they are mandatory so I did them and tried not to complain. Then, I had to decide: college or sixth form? I knew I couldn’t go and work a fancy job because I had no experience so I stayed on at sixth form, taking Music, Media, Drama & Theatre Studies and English Literature (which I later dropped). It wasn’t that I wanted to carry on; there just wasn’t anything else for me to do.
When my A-Levels were over, I realised I had another choice to make. Would I go to university? Would I find a job?
Now, at this point, I was interested in university as much as I am interested in mushrooms (a weird comparison but I really hate them). However, I wanted to move out of my family home. I didn’t have the best relationship going with my mum and I thought that it would improve our relationship if I left (it has). I knew that getting a job wouldn’t guarantee me enough money to move out so I picked the easy option: go to university and move into halls. Et voila, I ended up here in Portsmouth.
University hasn’t been the best thing in my life but it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. My first year was pretty terrible but, thankfully, I stuck at it (again, because I liked living away from home) and finally made some friends and started enjoying my course in Year 2.
At the end of my second year, when I was finally happy with a group of friends and had gained some confidence and some sanity (a story for another time), I decided that my third year would be different. I would focus. I would do all of my assignments in good time and they would all be Firsts. I knew I could do it if I buckled down so I told myself I would.
I was wrong. I have tried to force myself to write but I only really work well under pressure. This is a fact I have fought to change. If I know I have time to do something, my mind goes blank. I struggle to think of any points to make. The work I have completed in good time has always been of a much lower standard than the work I do at the last minute. It’s an incomprehensible fact. I wish it was different.
It’s not that I believe that essays are a bad way for us to learn. I do believe they do a greater deal for the brain than exams, which require you to memorise a lot of facts in a short space of time that you subsequently forget soon after. I just don’t like writing essays for university.
I think this problem stems back to my own narcissism. I want people to read what I think. I want people to listen. At the beginning of my university career, a guest lecturer came in to tell us how to write good essays. Her words have stuck with me ever since:
“Do not write in the first person. Nobody wants to know what you think unless you are a doctor.”
Those words made me feel sick to the stomach, and my coursemates too. Her words instilled in us what we had never expected to be true: nobody cares what we think. We had come to university believing that we were special, that we were intelligent, that we would be taken seriously in life now and people would respect our views. Then, our dreams were shattered. The prospect of staying on to do a PhD just so that people would value my opinion is one that will never tempt me but, for a moment, I wondered what I was doing. Why come to university if a degree gives you nothing more than your GCSEs or A-Levels did before it?
I struggle to write essays because I know that nobody cares what they say. When all is done and I have graduated, nobody will ever read my essays again unless they are used as an example for future students. If they are, my name will be removed. It is difficult to put your heart, soul and all of your focus and concentration into something that nobody cares about. My lecturer will read my writing. Perhaps my work will be randomly chosen to be marked by a second examiner. Then, it will be lost in the archives until it is replaced by somebody else’s essay. My words “will be lost in time, like tears in rain*.” Because of this, I struggle to care about what I write.
This post has gotten a lot deeper than I thought it would.
Until next time…
*Blade Runner (Scott, 1982).