“I am so ready for this,” I told myself at the start of the year. I mean, I know it’s the biggest piece of work I’ve ever done, but who doesn’t love a challenge?
Me, evidently. And seemingly most of my course.
Yep, it’s less than a month until the dreaded deadline for my undergrad dissertation. My carefully laid plans are being scattered to the gale-force winds now destroying the spine on a regular basis. The intricate colour-coordinated schedules I mapped up are now lying dusty on my desk as a broken promise to myself.
Gone are the more naive times when I would plan to have “dissertation days” three times a week, as if I didn’t already know I would always rather stay in bed to catch up on reading, and, let’s be honest, scrolling on my phone while watching Netflix.
What can I say? I’ve got caught up in last-year nostalgia. It’s hard to say “no” to plans when I’m becoming very much aware that the clock is ticking on university life. Going to the movies with my flatmates? Of course! I’ll only get to do this a few more times! Having a girl’s night with my friends? Absolutely! We’ll all be in different cities next year, and, let’s be honest, I need the relaxing power of face masks! Catching up with course mates over drinks? Why not? I haven’t seen them in like a year, and we were such good friends.
Life always finds a way to get more complicated just around the time of deadlines, doesn’t it? If you’re anything like me you’ll know that dealing with friendship drama and various mental breakdowns (not always, but sometimes, your own) is hard enough without having a 10,000-word alarm going off in your head every few days. And seeing the smug photos of your friends from other courses with their bounded, finished masterpieces certainly doesn’t help. Yes, you know they were you just a month ago, but right now you’re feeling like those digital detoxes aren’t such a bad idea.
Right now, I’m just struggling to remind myself that I picked this topic. Didn’t I have some kind of passion for this less than a year ago? Those days seem so far away… I was so young… and well-rested. Plus, it’s not easy to stay confident when other people on your course have topics that sound so impressive. What? You’re writing on the Odyssey? I’ll just hide my notes on pop culture while you talk about yours; maybe I’ll get more sophisticated by osmosis.
I can’t act like I’m the only one suffering, though. Every so often I’ll be in the library at ten at night, and I’ll catch the eye of another person: their dark circles and stale bed-head reminding me of my own, and then suddenly I don’t feel so alone in this cruel, academic world.
So, if you see me, or others like me, losing the will to live in the library, please spare a bit of pity… and then tell us to stop whining and just get on with it!