Opposite Statements Can Be Equally True

I was standing in the community centre kitchen on Sunday morning. There were already five people squeezed into the small space; I pressed myself into the alcove by the door, keeping an eye out for whether my help was required.

Two proverbs came to mind:

‘Many hands make light work.’

‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’

I smiled as I considered the apparent contradictions between these statements. Continue reading

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The Summer Blues

I could never handle the summer, or the school holidays in general, particularly in my teen years. The alluring break from work is dangled in front of you – six weeks that you look forward to for most of the year, during which there are fewer things that you must do. Mum used to smirk when I said the words, ‘I can’t wait for summer.’ She knew… Continue reading

I Couldn’t Prioritise My Degree

Priorities are complicated. I promised myself that I would work as hard as I could in the final year of my degree, because I wanted to know that I had done my best to get the desired result. As so often happens in life, it wasn’t that simple.

It’s not about what you’re prepared to do; it’s about what you’re prepared to give up and what you’re prepared to become. I was prepared to work hard when I was tired, to spend Saturdays chained to my desk, and certainly to bury myself in revision at the end. But that’s all.

There were things I was not prepared to do for the sake of educational status: Continue reading

My Exam Demons

I’m not bad at exams. I’m good at answering questions in a relevant way and at creating arguments. I don’t usually get overwhelmed when I walk into that room, although I do get a little distracted by other people’s reactions to the environment – it’s fascinating. But my GCSEs went smoothly enough and I did well at AS Level.

It was my second A Level year that threw me off course. I initially decided to take a year out of ‘education’ to follow my interests in an unpressured way, but that idea didn’t last for long. I was attracted to structure and to the ‘fun’ of choosing subjects. I decided to take three A Levels and to learn them at home – Geography, English Literature, and Thinking Skills. Mum dug out the syllabuses and past papers, and bought numerous recommended textbooks.

It turned out to be far more difficult than I imagined, working out what I needed to know – in Geography there was quite a bit of conflicting information. I make it sound like it wasn’t my fault and, in some ways, it wasn’t. The difficulty of the task, my struggle to think and write quickly, my often-bad health, and my low stamina (which is still often a problem), all contributed to the lack of motivation. However, I can’t blame it all on that. Continue reading

Relaxing at the End of My Degree

I’m drinking a latte in a café at the Hidden Gardens. I am not doing any Open University work today, despite a looming assignment deadline and the final exam in a few weeks. I was at Crossfit this morning, I’m here this afternoon, and I’m going to a Passover demonstration tonight. This might seem like a strange approach for someone who is determined to succeed in their degree…

I can achieve a surprising amount in a short space of time, if it has my full attention – far more so than in a full day of distracted effort. I can do two or three hours of academic work (of the focused kind) before my concentration and productivity sharply decline. Sometimes I will push on for longer, filling the later hours with less strenuous tasks. And then I’m done.

I have heard people say, ‘Don’t manage your time; manage your energy.’ This advice has been incredibly helpful to me. I’ve stopped beating myself up when I can’t Continue reading

I’m Not Good at Being Ill

I have a nasty cold – sore throat (hard to talk), blocked nose, slight temperature, get tired quickly… The fact that I’m writing this blog post suggests that I’m not quite at death’s door. I’m in that frustrating situation where if I was slightly better I could keep to my normal routine, and if I was slightly worse then I wouldn’t have the energy to be annoyed!

I hate having to cancel lessons. Each text I send brings a fresh sensation of ‘letting people down’. The fact that my pupils and their parents are the sweetest, most understanding people, doesn’t completely take that away. I still feel it. I hate not being able to work. I hate it that I can’t hold a book up for long. I hate it that honey and lemon is so soothing, when I don’t like the taste. I hate it that writing this will tire me out, even if it’s soothing for my mind. Continue reading

Just Shut Up

17.2.17

I’m writing this in bed at 4.15 on Friday afternoon. I was supposed to be writing my assignment for most of the day. Things are not going to plan.

I got up early, quickly started working, took regular breaks, and made progress – I was half way through the word count. But it was barely lunchtime when exhaustion hit.

For all my obsessive organisation and ‘motivational talk’, I have huge issues with working. I used to struggle to get anything done at all, partly because of health problems and low stamina, but mainly because of laziness and fear of failure!

As much as I have learnt to focus on the positive ways forward, it’s times like these when I find myself remembering those negative traits. I start to fight them head on which, in my experience, only gives them a stronger hold. And yet I’ve fallen head first into doing just that. Continue reading