Sunday, 13 May 2012

My Life's Obsessions #2

I am a fairly easy convert to any ideology that doesn't involve weird blood sacrifices or chanting. I'm a fickle follower, flitting quickly between my beliefs and goals. The odd thing is, I always feel completely serious about them for the first few weeks or months. But I inevitably lose interest at some stage, no matter how sure I was that it was the only way of life I could follow. It's a sad truth, but I am living Mason Cooley's statement that the only cure for obsession is to "get another one".
To prove my point, and to attempt to prevent others from following my slippery slope, I'm posting a (long) list of my teenage fixations, in chronological order. Proceed with caution.

Obsession #2 - Study
After I gave up on the dream of popularity, I needed something else to focus on. With big exams coming up, I threw myself into revision, learning every little detail of all my subjects by heart.
Picture from Study Prof

I worked incredibly hard. I studied on the bus coming into school every morning, in the classroom before school and at lunchtime, and yet more in the evening. I did no extra-curricular activities whatsoever, gave up on reading books and watching tv, and spent every waking moment tackling the mound of schoolbooks and notes and handouts.

I was so tired. All the time. I had this dull constant ache echoing around my temples, like the excess knowledge was trying to find a way to squeeze back out of my head. My comfort eating reached an all-time high, as I grabbed whatever sugary things I could to keep me awake long enough to finish this chapter, or that summary.

The subjects became the bane of my very existence. I hated everything about them. Even the ones I liked, such as Art and English, became targets of my bitter, tearful curses. It seemed like no matter how much work I got through each day, the list of things to revise continued to increase. I could see no benefit to knowledge I was obtaining any more - it just seemed like a cruel, impossible task that I had to fulfil. The exam week was a blur of feverish, last-minute cramming sessions, panic attacks and stomach cramps. When I was done, I was drained; a wreck; the weak exhausted residue of my former self. I couldn't remember how to relax. That summer I ended up mostly lying in my room, staring out of the window or catching up on lost reading. My schoolbooks were shredded, obviously.
Mind Map from

It worked in the end, of course. When all you do is study, your results are bound to be stellar, and mine certainly were. Which was lucky, because at that stage the grades were all I had. Having dropped out of the group I mentioned in the last post, I was on my own. I was more than two stone overweight, unfit, unsociable, unhappy. I was a girl clutching at the straw of an exam which in the end, really didn't count towards anything.

Over the next school year - TY, I gradually pulled myself out of the obsession. Since grades don't matter in Transition Year, I had time to participate, make friends, and finally relax. Even now, when exams are beginning to matter once again, I finally have some perspective. Some of the skills I learned during my study obsession still help me - mnemonics fix information in your brain astonishingly quickly, and MindMaps will always be beautiful, if not particularly effective for me. Now though, I realise it's all right not to come first. I simply do what I have to to get the job done, and use the rest of my time to read, write, relax - and breathe.

No comments:

Post a Comment