Thursday, May 24, 2012

"The" School Guilt

You know when something has the word "the" put in front of it that it's going to be when you call Sizzler, "the" Sizzler.  It makes it sound so much more important or ominous.  Or both.  If I say I'm headed to "the" Wal-Mart, I know I'm in for a doozie of a time, fighting my way through aisles of unattended children and people who need to take up half of the walkway with their cart and the other half standing there, bickering with their husband, unable to decide which kind of pickles could possibly be the best bang for their buck.  Yes, shopping at "the" Wal-Mart is a grim prospect, fully deserving of the "the" title.

And so it goes with a phrase I have recently coined: "The" School Guilt.  Sounds foreboding, right?  It is.

You know when you're going along in life, happily taking trips and saving money and watching television whenever you like and reading novels you actually enjoy reading?  Yeah, you're busy and doing worthwhile activities, but virtually you are guilt-free with how you choose to spend your time. And then after about six years of that, you foolishly decide that sleep isn't all it's cracked up to be and free time was a silly notion to begin with?

After wrestling and fighting and taking several deep breaths, you decide to buckle down and embrace graduate school fully.  Maybe this isn't so bad?  Hey, I'm actually learning stuff!  And becoming a better critical thinker!  Best of all, I have something to tell people who ask me what I'm up to these days.  "Oh you know, school and all that."  It's a great excuse when you don't want to get roped into something ridiculous.  "You need help doing (insert onerous task)?  Bummer..."

All of those positives aside, what I'm really talking about here is that overarching feeling of school slog.  Full-on, shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone, no end in sight.  For instance, I stayed up pretty late last night seeing just how close I could cut the midnight deadline for my "reflection journal" I wrote for one of my classes this week.  (One small gripe: don't call it a's a paper. it a paper.  Putting chocolate on this pill will not make it go down easier...).  I submitted that sucker and thought I could take a deep breath and relax.  I watched the season finale of Revenge, crawled in my bed, and even slept in an hour today.  This morning I began looking ahead at the syllabus for this class and realized that I have exactly the next seven days to complete the following:

1) Reading five articles and two book chapters, then writing one to two single-spaced pages about those;
2) Preparing a 10-minute class presentation about one of those articles (jointly, with another guy from class);
3) Writing a five-pager, comparing and contrasting two volunteer or management shadowing experiences (one of which I will not actually experience until tomorrow...);
4) Studying for our mid-term exam.


Hi, Memorial Day...I knew thee well.  This year, I'll eat my burger while sneaking peeks at articles and trying to keep from hyperventilating.  Because I hear that's pretty bad while you're chewing meat.

This is what I mean about "The" School Guilt.  Even if I had time to pack all of the family time and social time and homework time and work time and me time in, it's not that I could ever escape it.  During any given semester, there will be this guilt that roils in my rumbly tumbly every time I do anything non-school related.  The thought, "Dang it...I should be doing homework," is ever-present and leaves me feeling insufficient and procrastinatey.

Here is my plea to anyone who is currently in school, or who has good life balance, or has survived getting degrees without giving themselves ulcers: How do I do this and keep my head on straight?  How do I convince myself that it's ok to take little breaks and not feel resentful of my decisions later on?  Every Monday rolls around, and I think, "Sure would have been nice if I'd spent an extra hour or two on Saturday chipping away at this stack of homework..."  I get it all done, but the accomplishment comes with a heaping helping of self-loathing and the weak resolve to do it better the next time.

Maybe this is just my personality.  Crap.


Blogger Naomi said...

You just need to embrace the guilt. When you're working on school stuff, you'll feel guilty that you're not doing social stuff, and vice versa. And obviously, it all just comes down to choices and feeling in control. Perhaps there needs to be a discourse change. Instead of "I should be doing _____", you could say "I am choosing to do ______ right now."

Not an easy fix. I know.

May 24, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Blogger Lindsay said...

Get a planner and color code your assignments. It sucks to miss out on things but it is worth it to stay on to of assignments. Buckle up and hang in there!

May 24, 2012 at 8:49 PM


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