In my previous ‘Musings’ post I mentioned that I’d been suffering chest pain as a result of stress. This stress was particularly heightened by my university course work. I was so exhausted and in a lot of pain which honestly made me resent my course so much. I thought I didn’t like the course, that it was wrong for me and, who knows, this could be true. However, last night I looked at it from a different perspective, one I don’t explore all that often, but really should. I actually do like learning. I like acquiring new information. I’ve enjoyed finding out about the different ways all the texts I’ve studied so far can be read and interpreted (oh yeah, I’m doing an English degree, just for a bit of context)!
So… do I enjoy my course? I do. But it doesn’t feel like it’s designed for enjoyment. And that’s what I don’t like. I’m not really talking about my course specifically (though it’s really the only course I’ve experienced in depth so I equally cannot claim that this applies to all courses) but it really feels like the outcome of your work (i.e. your grade) is prioritised above the enjoyment of the course.
You are constantly told what you should and shouldn’t be doing in order to get a particular grade. Don’t get me wrong, it is certainly useful advice, and I’m not saying that the grade you achieve is super important, but I’m paying near £10k a year to learn. And the knowledge I’ve acquired from my course is pretty damn cool. I feel that this knowledge is overshadowed by the notion that one must ultimately walk away having achieved a ‘good’ (i.e. high) grade in order for your degree to be truly considered valid. The focus is on work and achievement rather than the joy of learning.
I’ve come to associate learning with stress and anxiety, which is honestly really sad and I wish I could alter this perspective. I’m trying, I guess, but it sure is hard (years of intense exams that come with education really reinforce such stress).
My stress is only increased by what feels like a ‘one size fits all’ approach to learning and completing your degree. What I’ve been told I should be doing doesn’t always align with what i can do but, of course, I will attempt to do it because that is what is being recommended. You can probably guess that this would only increase my existing stress- it’s really, really hard trying to fit a mould which just isn’t right for you.
There are definitely many upsides to university and my course (and learning stuff is very much up there), like being able to choose your modules, having L O A D S of free time etc. I just really wanted to vent a bit, because while these advantages are very much present, the pressure to succeed is also very real, especially for an anxious mess like me, and such pressure means, at least for me, that a lot of the enjoyment ends up getting lost. I also wanted to articulate this realisation to remind myself that I do like my course, and my hatred really came from the stress and the pressure.
Thanks for putting up with this little rant of a post! I really needed to blow off a bit of steam.