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Posts Tagged ‘study’

Recent History

Wherein the author provides a short long treatise on what she’s been doing recently and reflections related to the subject matter.

I fell off the face of the internet for a week, and social life in general for a few months. It was entirely necessary. So, if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, here’s the answer.

Last Wednesday night I completed my Masters Degree. Hooray! (pending advice that I actually passed the subject, of course). This was the major reason for the internet absence. The first part of the week was needed for study, the second part for recovery. I couldn’t even stomach the idea of engaging the text-based communication side of my brain until about Sunday night.

So, I played SimSocieties instead. I’ve read the reviews, and sort of agree with most of them. BUT it also fixes some of the issues I had with SimCity 4 AND was so completely visually based and mostly mindless that it was the perfect antidote to study.

I realised last Thursday precisely how much strain I’d put myself under and how much this degree of mine wasn’t as simple as I was deluding myself that it was. I was trying to be superwoman (again) and should have known better. On Thursday morning I ‘danced’ to work with a smile on my face for the first time in months. I possibly even did a tiny bounce into the air, with a small squee at the wonder and joy of life in general and the future that is currently unfolding. For those of you who have seen excitable, bouncy, squeeing me you may be slightly disturbed when I say that was the first one since about August.

Two weeks ago I got sick again, the ‘low-level virus’ that has been hanging around for months. I took two days off work, and hung around in KoL chat. It was nice. But, at the end of the two days I found myself bawling my eyes out, missing support networks and ‘just…want…someone…to…cook me…dinner’. Mostly I was worried that I was going to fail, and so therefore the basics of life were not being looked after, which led to a cycle of not studying effectively, which added to stress which created this lovely spiral effect. Not pretty. Luckily, I have an awesome, wonderful sister who let me study at her place and fed me good homecooked food. I don’t know what I would have done without her. The low-level virus has disappeared. Perhaps I actually had a case of ‘study anxiety’? Or at least a compromised immune system.

The exam itself was the most surreal I’ve ever done. I used to like exams, would generally do quite well in them as I’m good at thinking on my feet. This one, well, the pre-dominant thought that ran through my brain in the exam room was: “why am I here? Why am I sitting an exam in this room at age 30? Exams are things you do in your early 20s”. Which was odd, but sums the mentality up. I was just over it. Walked out with 15mins to spare, did not do any editing, I know there was at least one paragraph-sentence in there, if not more. But my hand hurt, I’d demonstrated I’d paid enough attention to pass the course, and that’s really all that matters.

On Thursday most of my work mates commented on how much better I looked overall, most specifically that I didn’t look tired. One night. It took one night to look better, and THE ONLY thing that had changed was the fact I didn’t have to study anymore. I didn’t feel utterly exhausted, which had become the norm.

I am walking straighter. I run for the joy of it. I can think strategically again, which has been useful as this week I’m the ONLY person in my team and line of management at work, so I’m sort of acting 4 positions at the moment. Sort of, only for emergencies. This week I am relishing it, last week I would have crumpled.

I can remember detail again and can dream about the future (that wonderful, exciting future). There was this big dense wall that was blocking anything post Nov 12. So, if you’ve told me something in the last few months, OR you’ve invited me to something and I’ve not been there, OR you were waiting for me to do something OR there was an obvious connection between two pieces of information that I should have made and then told people about, then it’s entirely possible that it was a detail I simply could not hold onto. Planning anything beyond the present was very, very difficult. Related to this is the fact that I’ve not seen, or corresponded with a lot of people I love. I miss you guys and am getting around to fixing it.

Talking work, this week I’ve had bunch loads of deadlines and intricacies and people seeking advice, and I coped, more importantly I coped well and was able to communicate and feel competent. Again, last week this would not have been possible.

My landlord has decided to sell the house I live in. Which I found out about an hour before my exam. At least it gave me something else to worry about. I’m dealing with that remarkably well, however it looks like the house selling timeline and the moving to the UK timeline might match up extremely well anyway.

On the weekend I went to a museum, wandered through the botanic gardens, took photos of both, spent time with friends and played board games. Utterly lovely.

My house is cleaner, I’m getting through my to-do list (have you seen http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ ? It’s fantabulous!).

And in two very, very short, wonderful weeks life takes on a whole new aspect and a deep gentle smile may become a permanent feature, and it seems likely that I may never have to deal with the world alone again. It’s good to know that I can, but the promise is so much better.

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I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently, as I noticed my exhaustion and stress levels rising to levels that I am really, really uncomfortable with over the last few months. I know it relates to studying, and I know that it is finite, but I wondered what precisely it is that bothers me. I think I have some answers.

Initially I assumed it was the pressure of writing, something I belived I was not good at after a crappy English department at my High School removed my confidence in my ability to write, compounded by an Engineering degree.

However, I now write for a living, and this semester’s assignments are based on the same format that I write to every week at work, so that’s not it.

Here’s what I think the problems are:

  • Higher education essays are based primarily on individual unbounded research. YOu are given some guidance on the subject area, and maybe the key theorists, BUT one of my stresses is constantly feeling like I don’t know enough and have not done enough reading and that I’ve not been able to find the key text(s) that will ensure this assigment is credible.
  • I’m an empirical thinker, I hate theory, being forced to frame my empiricism into a theoretical essay is/was tedious and seemed rather pointless since I have no desire to be an academic and hence this was useless jargon based knowledge that I had to try to understand.
  • I prioritise study above almost EVERYTHING else, and fret that I am not spedning enough time reading and writing, despite the fact that I now know exactly how much time it takes me and what my rhythm is for this process. This means that my house becomes a mess, I stop seeing the people that I like, who give me balance in my life, I don’t plan the other aspects of my life and so they all fall over. Likewise my friends get the impression that I am too busy and get scared to disturb me, despite the fact I probably desperately need company. My points of serenity and stability disappear.
  • I live in my head, which means I neglect the physical side. On Monday all I could think was that I wanted to go and get a full body scrub, then moisturise, and a hair cut and a facial. Essentially I stop feeling attractive. In other semesters, whenever I’ve handed an assignment in my first impulse has been to seek out a snuggle, to just ‘be’ and reconnect with the physical, to get out of my head.

All of these aspects sap. my confidence and energy. In previous semesters there has been lee-way at work to get some headspace, or I’ve been more lenient on myself at home about the mess, or I’d not felt attractive anyway, so didn’t notice the difference.

This semester? They all those factors came home to roost at the same time, and I added the stress of trying to move overseas. I am so very, very glad that my assignments are now over. One exam to go and then I’ll have my Masters, and it will be done!

Someone throw a soft object at

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Awareness

I am coming to the conclusion that awareness is one of the key differences between a good and meaningful life and a life that just trudges through until the end. To be aware of your thoughts, beliefs, actions and reactions and what they mean and then to make your choices from this place of awareness.

This morning I had a rather sharp example of this. While walking to work I finally got some inspiration on what the first line of my essay should be. Finally. It’s taken a while. I was turning this around in my head thinking of the implications when I slipped and fell over.

It was raining, and my shoes weren’t the best for this weather (apparently) as I’d already slipped and caught myself twice, so it wasn’t a completely random slipping over. But the point is that in giving my awareness to my essay questions I went into lala land with regards to my physical space. Now I have stinging palms and knees to remind me.

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The balancing act

Every 6 months I go through a fine balancing act. Well, it possibly happens more often than this, but I can pinpoint specific occurrences at May and November each year. It’s the balance point between being so stressed about impending deadlines that you freeze up and can’t do anything, and the laissez faire attitude that assumes you will get it all done, so you can take a break right now, it won’t matter.

I suppose it’s a bit like riding a wave, where the stressed part is when you have gone too far into it and get dumped in the surf, and the laissez faire part is where you miss the crest of the wave entirely and get left behind.

Neither extreme is going to get the essay done. The trick is to find enough stress to keep you focused on doing the work, but not too much stress that you stress out and get tired and your brain freezes up.

The past few weeks have been a strange combination of the two. I think I am now in the creative essay writing space at the crest of that wave. At least here’s hoping so, I have 2 weeks and 3 essays to hand in. Wish me luck!

Did any of that make sense, or has my brain finally exploded? I find it hard to tell at the moment.

*post script* the problem with this balancing act is that sometimes other stuff falls off as the imperative to pass University takes over your brain space. The real estate agent just rang me to remind me that the rent is late. *sigh* and lets not talk about the library fines I am accruing as I keep forgetting to take them back. Or the friends that I am neglecting as I lock myself away from the world (in a train! …ask me some other time)

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