When I started this blog, I had planned for it to be the place where I would mostly write about my ~wacky adventures in academia~: about my classes and the awesome things I’d learn, about working hard and getting good results, about being in a positive, encouraging environment. I thought that by going back to university, I would learn new things, become smarter, do something worthwhile with my time while at the same time increasing my options for future jobs. I hoped it would finally be the end of this “Hi, I’m LP! Everything in my life turns to shit!”-losing streak that I’d been on since March 2010. And most importantly, I thought it would make me happy. Or at least happier.
Well, none of these things happened. Quite the contrary, actually. Where last year things were hard, but I did manage eventually, this year has been a total disaster on all fronts. The 8-8-4 system, which I hoped would be an improvement, just enhanced the issues I already had in the old system: things are even more fragmented, the amount of work has increased and the speed with which I have to ingest, process and then transform the (to me) highly fragmented information is just too high. I fell ill at the beginning of the year, got a highly mediocre grade for a class I should have done well in, fell behind in other classes, couldn’t catch up anymore and had to drop those classes. This turned out to be the beginning of the end.
I have never been a very confident person and these disappointments completely eroded any self-confidence I might have had at some point. Before going back to university, I thought I knew what I was capable of, but apparently I was wrong: I am clearly incompetent, incurably stupid and totally unsuited for academia.
From November on, I’ve considered quitting on a daily basis, sounding a lot like that boxer in that song. The only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t have anywhere else to go and was still hoping things would get better. I am aware that this sounds like the reasons for staying in a bad relationship and honestly, it feels like that on most days. It’s like the harder I try, the less things works out. Not in my classes, not in my Dedicated Student™ activities, not with my fellow students, not with the teachers. And as long as I am doing well academically, I really couldn’t care less if teachers or students dislike me. But when I already feel like I don’t belong here the feeling that I’m not appreciated, that I’m being ignored and unwanted is just making me feel like a failure and a nuisance.
I did of course try to find extra (practical, psychological, coaching) help, but help was either unavailable to me because of reasons or completely unhelpful to the point of just being insult to injury. I looked at other options: a different university in the Netherlands (same system, unable to transfer classes already passed so I’d have to start over and I’d have to move to a room that costs twice as much as my current house and I just can’t afford that), abroad (unaffordable) or online (I don’t have 38.400 dollars, let alone to spend on tuition only). It was clear: it’s either these studies, or no studies. So I trudged on by myself, just pushing on and pushing on to the point of quite literal insanity: two weeks ago, I completely blanked during a literature exam. Which resulted in a 2.2. I have never in my life gotten a 2.2. Just for comparison: last year I did a similar exam and got an 8.4. While having a fever.
I have given up everything for these damn studies: I don’t play bass anymore, I don’t go to the pool anymore, I don’t make zines anymore, I don’t do projects anymore, I quit social media/blogging, I’m mostly holed up by myself in my house with my cat (who is a sweetheart, but you get my point), stressed out to the point of having lost half my hair. I’m having a hard time talking to people. All I do is my studies, worry about my studies, cry about my studies, cry in toilets, cry in the canteen, cry in class, cry at the study advisor’s office, cry at my doctor’s office, cry at my therapist’s office, yell at my mother over the phone and be miserable. With zero results. And I can’t keep doing this for another two years. So I quit.