Today I decided to revise in the public library of my local town rather than my usual floor 5 spot in my University library. I recently finished my first exam and felt the change of scenery might help to reset the focus of my brain from the previous module to preparation for the next few exams.
I had done about two hours of focused work and all of a sudden I hear: “OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM, EE-AH-EE-AH-OHH” blasting from the floor below me. Curious, I walk to the balcony to see what is going on and I am met by a sea of toddlers and parents sitting in a circle. Turns out the library was holding a family sing-a-long session.
And suddenly I begun laughing – it was just hysterical to me and provided the reality check that I have been needing. The situation was just so absurd. There I was deep into my research on the effects of a wide interpretation of section 3 of the Human Rights Act on constitutional legitimacy and legal certainty….and a few feet away were a group of toddlers singing their hearts out to nursery rhymes.
The juxtaposition of the two activities was just so funny, I could not stop laughing. It is hard to feel stressed or sad when you can hear: “IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR HANDS” blasting from the floor below.
Often when you are deep into revision mode and are surrounded by other people who have exams, it is so easy to get into a culture where you live and breathe your degree. This can happen in all aspects of life. For example, you might be focused on a particular project in your job or perhaps it is a hobby that you are pouring all your time into. It is so easy to get absorbed in whatever is going on in your life.
This is not always a negative thing – sometimes it is good to be completely focused on one thing to avoid distraction and direct your energy. However, other times it is important to take a look up and see that there is so much else going on. Today for me, it was taking a moment to look up from my text book and listen to the toddlers singing.
This is helpful especially when our lives get tough and that one thing we are so focused on gets overwhelming. For example, I was recently having a conversation with a friend in the library and they were so stressed thinking of all the possible consequences of not doing well in their exams. This quickly got out of hand until I could see them visibly shaking.
They had got so caught up in what they were doing that they could not see beyond the degree and exam seasons. For example, it is a common joke amongst friends when crossing the road during exam season that there is no point in looking because if you get hit then at least you might get mitigating circumstances for your exams. Whilst, these are definitely just jokes albeit, very dark ones the mentality they represent is worrying. Exams are important but at least we have our health!
Do not get so focused in achieving your goals that they inhibit you or you fail to appreciate what you already have. So you want to get that promotion? Do all you can to achieve it and follow all the tips I gave in my last post to align yourself with success. But do not do it to the extent that you let it negate all the things you already have.
Doing so can either have a paralysing effect where you get so caught up in the goal that you cease to be effective in your methods of attaining it. Or it can mean you are always running an endless race where you are constantly seeking out the next milestone. If you are never still to appreciate the in-between moments then it can become exhausting or even get to the point where your goals become meaningless.
My degree means a lot to me so sometimes I get overwhelmed and think “what if?”. Yet it does not define who I am – I am so much more than these exams. They represent the smallest part of my University experience and the diverse range of things I have achieved over the past four years.
So I remind myself to do everything in my power to put myself in the best position to do well whilst also trying to learn to enjoy the process of learning and realising that in the grand scheme of my life, it really is not the end of the world.
So my advice is to take a deep breath and look up (this is not an excuse to procrastinate) but when your goals become overwhelming, make sure you ride through the wave of your fear or panic and get to a point where you can appreciate where these goals sit in the wider context of life.
It’s just me, Dammy, clapping my hands