We all know this is the WORST time in University life………Easter/ Lent term. The term of pain and suffering. The place where your social life goes to die. The hideousness of every moment stuck revising..
For me, the apocalypse hit me early, it’s just ended. Having three essays due within one week and a grand total of 12k words due at once on three very different subjects……well, I think I now know what hell is and it’s gonna be something along the lines of that ^ but with a bit more heat and fire and screaming ya’know, Dante’s inferno style. ANYWAY TODAY I FINISHED. I BEAT THE APOCALYPSE. Completed it mate and wrote all my words and gave all those words in and now I’m free of all those goddamn words. Is it all academic tripe? Very possibly. Do I care anymore? Not a jot. It got me thinking…..isn’t it all a bit futile? Like I just busted my ass to get these things written and submitted and coherent and at the same time they had to be new and exciting and something no one has thought of before even though its 2017 and there have been archaeologists since the bloody 1700s. All for what? So two people marking it can judge me and then give me a mark. That’s it. They’ll be forgotten after that, those little pieces of academic hell that now have a bit of my soul inside them cos I nearly killed myself (mostly with boredom) to do them. My horcruxes. All to be told I’m clever or not and that’s it. I experienced the outer level of Dante’s inferno just to get a number that is a bit of my overall Masters?! I know that’s entirely the point of academia but after this ordeal I’ve just realised how ridiculous it is. Why did they have to try and kill their students in order for us to pass? Why was that fair? Why do they want to dampen people’s drive towards academia by giving them unrealistic deadlines that aren’t actually indicative of the ‘real world’ (as I was told when I disputed the deadline clashes). If a lecturer has 3 or more things due at once they just don’t do some of it or they decline. I couldn’t decline my bloody essays so this was not an insight into how the real world works. It was an insight into the cruelty of academia.
Okay, bit OTT since I actually do wanna become an academic but so help me god if I have anything to do with it, I will not crush the spirit of my students.
Now I have to start revising for an exam on the broadest topic ever “archaeological theory” which includes economics, genetics, psychology, religion, gender and feminism, food, technology and like a billion other things I cant even think of right now. It’s a tough life but luckily I only have one exam. Good luck to you poor creatures with multiple.
I’ve always been a big academic nerd and I love books and stuff but I have missed, more than I could have ever thought possible, reading for pleasure. When you have constant work and constant stress you don’t allow yourself the joy of reading for FUN because you feel guilty if you’re not reading a book you’re supposed to…. but they’re super dry and dull and most of the time you don’t want to read them so you don’t. It’s a constant struggle. Yes, I hear those of you saying “um but aren’t you doing a PhD next year?”……well that’s looking less likely and at first I was like OMG NO I MUST KEEP GOING but now?! I am so excited at the prospect of a break, at the chance to read for pleasure, a chance to regain my love of academia and study, a chance to let my mind settle and actually think again, rather than just churning out work for the sake of it. I’ve lost everything I love about academia and it’s really sad actually. Cambridge, amazing city and beautiful place filled with adorable people, has ruined it for me because ever since I arrived to find my course cancelled and a new one forged hastily because I was here, it’s all been an uphill struggle and it’s not fair. Not fair to crush someone who was on the right track to keep going and keep enjoying academia. Not fair to cause x100 more stress than was required. Just not fair. So maybe it’s best I take a year to *cringe* rediscover what I liked about this world.
I suppose its been a useful lesson. Just because you think you’re on the path you should be on, doesn’t mean you should be open to change if you find yourself feeling differently to when you started. There’s no shame in that, I’ve realised. There’s no disappointment either. Just a change. I guarantee after a year of working and being in charge of my own thoughts again, I’ll be ready to get back and do my PhD and become an academic and write books and give lectures and stuff but for now this opportunity of a break is very tempting.
This post is a message to all you exammers and dissertationers…. this may seem like the apocalypse but it’s not. Once you’re done, you’ll forget the suffering almost instantly. If you feel disheartened that’s okay. If your plans change and your future path changes form, that’s okay too. Just because you’re under pressure and overwhelmed that doesn’t mean you’ll feel that way forever. And if that’s the way you think your life is going, take a break and try something new while you have all the time in the world. After a spell away from something, you’ll know how you really feel about it. I’ve only realised that now. I thought if I just kept going I’d get through and it’d be done….but what’s the point of doing it out of obligation when I don’t have to and its only ME deciding that’s what I need to do.
So one apocalypse is over. The exam apocalypse is due. Then the dissertation apocalypse. Then no doubt something after that. But you know what? It’s not the end of the world and we can all get through it.
Peace and love little study worms