Learning how to Learn

This week has been difficult. Hurricane Matthew’s enigmatic hovering over our waters cost me an entire week of school and of course, all my lecturers decided to cram two weeks worth of work into one. It’s my final year, time is in short supply and energy all but completely depleted just half way into the first semester.

It’s frustrating because for the most part, this is the most fun I’ve had at university so far. With 3 free electives I was able to select a range of challenging but relevant and provocative courses like “Issues in Caribbean Cyberculture” or “African Diaspora Film” and “Philosophy of Mind”. I might not appreciate having compulsory courses (I don’t do well with being forced to do anything) but I see the value of “The Art of Public Speaking” I genuinely enjoy all of my classes, especially my specialization “Multimedia Journalism”, but I don’t seem to have the time to be on top of my work for all 5 courses all at once.

Part of the problem is I have a sneaky job. My job as the Producer of a Radio Show, seems like it only takes up 2 hours of air time and 4 other hours of prep and post at the studio, but in reality the planning of an episode takes at least 2 hours out of each day for me. Hours that were already in short supply, seeing as I have classes from 10 am to 6 pm (with free periods between) on the three days I have classes. That means leaving the house at 6:30 to get to school on time, and getting home between 8:30 and 9:00 pm when I’m taking public transportation.

So I’m sleep deprived and stressed out, but none of these things makes me feel like giving up — it’s just hard to focus on memorizing how to deal with nervousness on stage, when there’s always so much other crap to do.

Not to mention, I got a bad grade and it ripped me apart. Yes, I’ve gotten bad grades before — but none that I actually 100% prepared for, did all the work required and extra work only to find that I misunderstood a key part of the question that cost me the bulk of the marks. I’m not used to that. This year feels like the stakes are sky high and there’s nothing I seem to be able to do to stop myself from drowning in work.

Every time I give extra attention to one class, I fall back in two others. I haven’t completed the readings for any of my classes, which is worrying because I need to declare a research topic, connect with the material of my first Philosophy class, absorb the background information and add it to my frame of reference so I know how to read and analyze like a Cultural Studies student. It’s overwhelming and exhausting.

And yes, I know you want to say — well why are you online whining about it when you could be doing work now?

  • Well, I felt like my head was going to explode if I didn’t say anything. I have been feeling more anxiety than I consider normal over the last two weeks, I have had one mild panic attack, 0 restful nights of sleep, gone to bed at 3 two nights and woken up at 6. That’s not my natural rhythm. I need at least 6 hours to not feel like I’ve been run over by a freight train for days.

And yes, I know you want to say — well, other students have done it before you so quit whining.

  • Well, we actually don’t know if another student has taken exactly this combination of courses before. Also, that student might have lived on campus instead of 2 hours away by public transportation. That student might not have worked. That student might have had financial security which prevented her from being stressed out about money, and also, assured her that if she failed or didn’t do as well, it wasn’t the end of the world. Not to mention that girl would not be me — with my lived experiences. My fear of failure because of being a “bright child”, my overthinking, my difficulty bouncing back after setbacks. That girl probably didn’t process the world as I do. It’s just not the same.

So yeah, this is my burden. I’m learning to deal with it, and learning how to learn because I spend far too much time second-guessing my opinions and the threat of failure doesn’t really do much to help me feel secure in operating from ignorance to attain knowledge. Somehow my “not-knowing” is shameful and must be violently stripped from me. It’s not a gentle process, it is a baptism of fire and I don’t always know how to deal with it. There’s generally no help processing all of this so I just push through, aching for a good night’s sleep or a moment where I feel absolutely sure that I am on the right path.

I’m waiting for a moment where I don’t feel like information and education are Sisyphean tasks. I’m trying so hard to put this all together. I tried to make a legit list this week of all the things I was supposed to do in a day — crossed one thing off the list — max. My lecturer says breakfast is important — I’m so used to skipping meals now, I substitute water for them because it’s just easier.

Idk, I may be whining and complaining about a privilege others would die for — but I think I’d like to see more stories of students struggling instead of students being geniuses or whatever.

Well… yeah… that’s it.

I need to write a film review and I can’t choose which “Black Experience” film to watch. I’m stuck among Dope, Dear White People and Do the Right Thing. I just can’t decide on a position to take.

Sigh.