Sunday, May the 1st, 2005

I’ve been a student longer than most people I know. Definitely longer than any of my friends from school/undergrad. For the most part, I think I’ve been really good about it. Perpetually enthralled by challenging work, held in rapture by obscure courses in obscure departments, actively participating in the most inane events dreamed up by the geekiest of geeks… you name it. I’ve sort of done my time, and for the most part, I’ve had fun doing it.

Though I claim to be all calm, and always try to appear like I’m “effortlessly winging it”, the truth is I’ve at times had to put in the many many hours into figuring out a lot of things. A lot more hours than I am comfortable spending. None of this is really child’s play people, trust me. I am not the dullest tool in the shed, and it sometimes takes me ages to work stuff out.

Anyway, back to what I am trying to say.

I’ve been a student since I was in pre-kindergarten at 2-3 or whatever. I’ve defined my entire life around being a student. It is not one aspect of my life — it IS my life. And then one day, some 20 years later, you wake up and you realize it probably isn’t all that much fun anymore. It is sometimes so taxing that some really psycho masochistic portion of you has to wake and drag the rest of you, kicking and screaming, to make it to the uni.

It’s such times when I look around, and I realize there is no other aspect of my life to fall back on. Nada. Zip. Nothingness. If the going’s rough as a student, as it sometimes can be, I’m basically screwed. While I’m looking around, I see (the lesser educated) people I know who are doing just fine, in their cool offices in high rises, fancy cars, trophy spouses… . They aren’t as qualified, and probably aren’t even as smart, but from what I can see, they’re happy. Happier anyway.

So no, I am not going to do anything nearly as drastic as this. But I have decided to make a not-so-subtle change in my outlook regarding school. From this point on, I will do only the bare minimum (in terms of requirements toward a degree, say, or even number of degrees) and aim at getting done as soon as possible. No more random tack on degrees from other departments, no more “fun” women’s studies classes or languages, no nothing. I take the requirement sheets, check off what I’ve done, and complete the one or two remaining things, and be done with it.

School’s all fun, usually. For when it isn’t, you need a backup plan — a life. Taking it on without a failsafe plan B can and does get annoying.

This is a printer-friendly version of the journal entry “Personal Interventions” from actuality.log. Visit to read the original entry and follow any responses to it.

7 Responses to “Personal Interventions”

  1. Vigvg says:

    What you talking about ? You have your hobbies – your photography, your blog, your games. And more importantly, you have choice. You are in an environment that is oozing with choice. Thats something the rest of us have given up on. My work doesn’t have the privelage of choice. I can’t decide to start learning a new language today and tell my boss I want to start devoting time to it. It won’t work.

    I guess what I’m saying is, yes, we all feel that way at a point. That there is no point in trying so hard. Its not you, in grad school. Its everyone. Its me, working in my high rise, to-be-fancy car and.. yeah, lets stay off the spouse bit ! Its that extra thing that you put in, that makes you you. I’m sure you can just as easily turn around and put some 10% of the usual amount of effort you give, into something else and make Plan B really interesting !

  2. anita says:

    i agree with what vig said. and also, i know there are times when i really regretted doing only the bare minimum. i mean, do you really think that will make you happier?

    there were so many people that i thought were screw-ups in high school. because i worked so much harder than they did, got better grades, went to a better college, went to grad school, etc. but what do i have to show for it? nothing really. and those screw-ups? they’re more successful than i am and probably happier. but that doesn’t mean that i should have been more like them all along.

    i just think that the real world is harder for some people than for others. so make the most of school while you are still there. i don’t want you to look back later feeling sorry that you didn’t take this class or join that club or whatever. you have more of a life while you’re in school that you probably would have outside of school. even though it may not seem like it.

  3. wahgnube says:

    Vigvg: Hobbies, yes, but look at that list (and I could tack on 3–4 more, but the basic point’s still the same). They’re all substantially me-centric and an obvious function of my state of mind at the time. I, for the most part, really (too much, if you ask me) enjoy the intellectual challenges school throws at me. I, for the most part, also handle these with substantial ease. There are times, however, when it’s hard. When I don’t get the feeling (and consequent pleasure) of “doing these easily”. That is a primary motivator for me, and now… school things suddenly stop being fun.

    That sucks, because I’m in a rotten mood, and no amounts of hobbies matter, because I’m not in a frame of mind to really pursue anything. Moping is all I got. Cameras don’t come up to you and try to cheer you up on their own accord.

    And yes, I agree I do have choice and that is totally sweet. I’ll go on to add, most of said complications are brought on myself, and not forced on me in an way. Which is cool too, because it gives me (a false sense of) an opportunity to quell the irritants if I so choose.

  4. wahgnube says:

    anita: No, I don’t think doing the bare minimum will make me any happier. I was quite perplexed by a recent string of “struggling to get somewhere and not really getting anywhere” and exaggerated my response, as I always do.

    The rough logic I was applying went something like this — Why try hard and not really get anywhere when you can not really do anything and not really get anywhere?

    The bit about having more of a life in school than later is a scary thought, though.

  5. anita says:

    didn’t mean to scare you about the lack of a life after school. it’s not like that for all people, just for some. for me anyway.

    and i understand what you meant now. but even if you end up going nowhere with your life, at least you would have learned some cool things along the way, you know? that’s worth something.

  6. wahgnube says:

    Except that, even though a good portion of me is genuinely in it because I am curious and enjoy learning things arbitrarily, a small portion is in it for the “grand payoff”. You know, the bit of you that goes… “Hey, she’s just a <insert whatever lowly qualification/intellectual state here>, and I’m going to be a <insert whatever slightly higher qualification/intellectual state here>, and she’s in that high rise with that Porsche, I’m guaranteed to be at a higher rise driving a Porscher”.

    Unfortunately, it is that small portion that seems to be getting a larger and larger role in deciding whether or not I am happy with the choices I’ve made. As in, at points it’s almost set up so that “I will be sad if I am not at that higher rise driving that Porscher”.

  7. anita says:

    yeah, i know how that feels.

    but i still recommend doing the things that you are genuinely interested in learning about.

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