Irrsinn.net: taking joy in human unreason

Learning to Live

Today, I was struck by how much my priorities in life have changed. It’s 16:30 on a Sunday afternoon and I have done not a single stitch of homework due tomorrow. I have, however, accomplished my weekend goals for my website, found several new and interesting sites to syndicate and potentially add to my links, started reading Dune Messiah and Life of Pi, gotten in one good workout that whooped my ass (despite my general fatigue this weekend), spent some time talking seriously with Bridget (not about anything bad, just friendly talking, but not so light-hearted as I would with a mere acquaintance), visited some friends down the hall, made one of my more private activities a little more public and social, and listened to some new music.

I haven’t even tallied up all the things I haven’t done yet. Nor will I. I’m not stressed about homework, I’m not stressed about tests. This is such a new feeling for me I want to cry with relief. I’ll pick a subject and just start working until I finish, then I’ll start another subject. And when I’m done, I’ll go straight to bed, because homework doesn’t worry me anymore, doesn’t keep me up at night like it did when I was in high school. I haven’t had one of my headaches since I’ve been in college; none of that icky tension building in that one tender spot on your neck that tells you what you know is coming and adds pressure because of a strong fear of the pain that will lay you low for days and make you cry helplessly as you try to complete your homework and try to remember to eat or to stop eating and try to forget the chores you won’t do and the anger of your parents as a result and try not to look at the bed too often, despite the fact that it’s right fucking behind you and it’s 02:00.

During my senior year, what is known as “senioritis” hit me rather hard. This is more generally called apathy. I just didn’t give a fuck. I worked on finding the absolute minimum amount of work to get the A’s-with-one-B I wanted on the report card and transcript. Likewise, I stopped crying over B’s. I didn’t study for my AP or IB exams, except for, for most of them, a brief skimming of notes (literally, maybe three hours worth) either the night before or the day of. I shit you not. I still can’t believe I blew off the monumental exams I had worked so hard to train for for four fucking years. But I just couldn’t care. Not a fucking fig. IB diploma or not, 28 credit hours or 10, I didn’t give a damn. I seriously considered dropping my acceptance to Rose-Hulman and going to the in-state school I had been accepted to so I could skim by with easy classes and slide through getting a Computer Science diploma. (Not to dog on N.C. State or anything, of course, but that was my perception at the time.)

I’m finding that learning to live while studying, however, make things easier. My priorities are not impressing my teachers with my superior wit, besting my classmates, becoming a world-class marathon runner, or even getting my degree. My goals are to learn, to get healthy in the fullest sense, and to learn to enjoy myself in whatever I’m doing. I don’t want to be one of those that complains about whatever job I have, or whatever classes I signed up for, or whatever I’m doing. I’m fucking doing it, so I should enjoy something about it. Not that everything will always be pleasant and happy-go-lucky (and not that I’m never going to complain about anything), of course. I will choose to do things I would rather not be doing. I may end up in a shitty job, as the lesser of several evils, one including being on welfare or starving. But I don’t want to let that get me down; I want to be stronger than that.

[Listening to “No Life” [Slipknot / Slipknot]]

  • Wow. You lucky, lucky girl. For me it’s the exact opposite. I hardly did any work in high school and got good grades anyway, and now university is kicking my ass because acquiring study habits at this point is kind of hard.

  • Yeah, but…

    …at times I feel like a husked-out shell of the person I used to be, academically. Motivation to work hard on academic stuff doesn’t come as easily as it did. My love for school is much more select–English and Comp Sci have my complete attention at all times, but Physics and Computer Engineering courses can fall by the wayside. Hard high schools are slightly over-rated, as they tend to produce (or did in me, anyway) people already tired of school. And that’s not really a good mindset to have when plans include getting Ph.D.’s and the like, ya know? [;)]

  • Hannah

    Melissa–I know EXACTLY what you mean about being tired of school already and it making you feel like a “husk” of the person you used to be academically. I have been trying to make other people understand why I’m so unmotivated, and you’ve put it into perfect words. I no longer care about A’s or any of that. Maybe that WAS the point of the hard high school, though. I mean, in the end. Not that that’s what the high school meant for the point to be or anything. But it did teach me that the grade isn’t everything. I like my LIFE a lot more now.

  • Rackrent

    Yay! All of you have such healthy mind sets, I won’t have to worry about the possibility of suicides! (j/k of course) I found that I still care about grades, maybe not as much as I did in high school (where one B was extremely unacceptable to me, I’m sure you know that awful feeling). I’m not tired of school, yet, but I feel much happier than in hs. I laugh a lot more, I don’t stress as much, I try to sleep at least 8 hrs a day, I go out and have fun with friends. I guess I’m tell myself that “who’s gonna care if your GPA was a 3.75 or a 3.5 at work?” I’m satisfied with my best (or almost best) even when it is not THE best. [:D]Yay for all of us! (hmm, maybe it’s easier to feel this way when my grades are decent. Oh yeah, wait till those chems start to rush in! hopefully I’ll still have the same self-soothing thoughts)

  • Hannah–I must agree with you about the point of hard high schools; you work yourself in to a sick frenzy about this stuff only to sort of grow up and realize that you’ve been doing things kinda wrong, because the grade *isn’t* everything. Well, I’d like to keep a 3.75 or higher so I can get into grad school, but I won’t feel like a failure if I don’t quite make that goal. All things in perspective, I guess. Life is not *just* about the intellect, which is how I had been living my life for *all* of my life. Rackrent–I hear you on hoping you keep the same “self-soothing thoughts” when the fecal matter hits the rotary impeller. I mean, it’s nice for me to be all happy and well-rounded right now, but, if as soon as things get tough, I revert to my old ways, I haven’t done myself much good, have I? It’ll be that much harder to again become the way I am now, because I will have reinforced the bad habits through success in grades (which would undoubtably be higher than my current 3.75), and I could again justify my obsession with thoughts of jobs, grad school, degrees, etc. I don’t know. Are we recovering addicts of school? [;)]

  • Hannah

    I wish I had a 3.75 GPA. I don’t think we even get GPAs for the first semester since it’s Pass/No Record. Hmm…But I know even my real grades wouldn’t get me a 3.75…I don’t think.

  • Hannah–your classes are also probably much harder than mine were, particularly that physics course of yours. So you still win for taking difficult classes. [8)]

  • My GPA right now…. oh, I’m not even thinking about my GPA yet. Especially since the only interesting class I’m taking is Computer Science. The Calc, Chem and Phys can kiss my bum. Notice the motivation?

    Once upon a time I thought my high school was hard – I mean, I started out doing the German Abitur and the IB simultaneously(the Abi has more subjects than the IB and is pretty much just as rigorous). Then I couldn’t be bothered and dropped all but 2 IB subjects. Still, I don’t think it was easy per se. Maybe my university is just super-hard.

  • Jenny

    i’m sooooo proud of you…

    what a relief it must be for you! i didn’t have exactly the same experience as you in high school, but i can definitely empathize with the destressing effects of college. i will be thrilled when i get my B in calc, and i didn’t even cry when i failed one of my tests in there… i haven’t cried about school in quite some time. it’s a beautiful thing…

  • Rackrent

    Me too!! I haven’t cried about grades since I got here! Hopefully it shall stay that way[;)]

  • Rackrent

    *actually “me neither!!!”[|D]

  • Jenny, your “destressing” distressed me. I had to read it about three times before I really *caught* that you didn’t make a typo, ‘cuz I was, like, what? Did she read what I wrote? I said it *wasn’t* distressing anymore! Stick a hyphen in there next time, chica. This is what I get for being one of those readers that sort of mentally reads aloud, I suppose. At any rate, I’m so with you guys on the “yay for not crying about grades anymore” bandwagon. It *is* a beautiful thing. Floh–I’m going to have to remember to e-mail you and ask for details about your school setup, ‘cuz it looks like you went to a German school, but are in college in Canada, and that’s just ridiculously cool. [|D]