today is a day for trepidation and celebration.

Well. Despite having to cut nigh-on 1000 words from it (including the entire idea of society’s fear of women’s sexual agency being linked to the sublime, alas I am still not over this), my Gothic essay has served me well and I have passed the module with flying colours. I’m a mite worried about my other module – Modernism – but the grade for that is in the pigeonholes at uni so I will have to fret about that until I can go get it tonight. How well I’ve done overall this year mostly hangs in the balance of a piece of work I only submitted recently and whether a) it’s as shit as my anxiety thinks it is, and b) whether anxiety with a doctor’s note is good enough for the mitigating circumstances board. I don’t think I have a hope with it, but other people do, so we will see. I would hate to have fucked up my academic career because I was too afraid to hand in a piece of work I considered sub-standard (but was of a higher calibre than others in the class…)

I am now prepping solidly for next year – I have a stack of books, have ordered an even bigger stack of books (you honestly don’t want to know my expenditure on German poetry and Enlightenment philosophy this month – nobody should be spending that percentage of their income on Kant and chums), and made myself a bullet journal tailored specifically to the needs of my dissertation. I have begun my reading with Terry Eagleton and a new history of Germany and am making notes of everything I find interesting in the hope that a question or theme will present itself to me.

To-do

  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for some level of leftish success in today’s GE (if Cthulu wants blood to take away Theresa May, he shall have it)
  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for DREAM JOB to interview me (they said they would announce shortlisted candidates this week)
  • Stay away from the television, news and all but the most superficial social media until tomorrow. It’s not worf it, mate.
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Timetable. Go away.

Whereas my last essay I had plenty of time to go off-schedule and have it take me longer (and it took me about a week longer than I wanted), with this one I don’t have that luxury. The timetable I’m going to set out is achievable, but cutting it fine so I absolutely have to stick to it.

  • Tues-Fri 9th – 12th – get to 500 words. Read all critical sources (which is mostly done already). Re-read Great God Pan. Washing up. Practice German. Go to work. Get some sleep.
  • Sat 13th – get up at 8am. Go through The Shining for quotes (but just the folded-down pages). Get to 1250 words.
  • Sunday 14th – get up late. Be ready to go out and work from noon. Get to 2000 words. Cook, and marinate something for the next day.
  • Mon-Fri 15th – 19th – read over and primp what’s done. Finish any mostly-finished paragraphs. Get to 2500 words. Go to work. Tidy room. Practice German. Get some sleep.
  • Saturday 20th –  Get up at 8am. Work in coffee shops not library. Reach word count of 3000. Proof-read and make sure it all makes sense. Hand in 1st draft.
  • Sunday 21st – Check citations. Proof-read and primp. Ask a friend to proof-read.
  • Monday 22nd – Go to work at 8am. Final proof-read over break ready to hand in for noon. Do not panic.
  • Tuesday-Friday 23rd – 26th – Work. Social events in the evening. Y6 evening.
  • Saturday 27th – Half-term. Sleep for a week.

I will not be doing anything that isn’t on the plan until the things on the plan are done. One might argue that my washing-up, for instance, doesn’t need to be on the list (that person has definitely not seen the state of my house right now), but I want to be able to include living like an actual human in my crazy week.

For context, this blog post is almost 300 words and I wrote it in a 20-minute break. Although it is much easier to write than formal language structured to make a point, I will have lots and lots of 20 minuteses, and not one day requires more than 750 words. This is possible.

Wish me luck.

To-Do:

  • Sleep.
  • Touch up roots.
  • Stop reading reviews of Ivanka Trump’s book (it wastes time, and anyway this cannot be bested)

The stress, the successes and the hard, hard work: why this is My Week.

I jumped out of bed this morning. Literally jumped, because the alarm on my phone started playing Layla at full blast and I wanted to switch it off as soon as possible so that it didn’t wake my boyfriend’s housemates or mean that he couldn’t get back to sleep. And so it began – I got to work early, I tidied my Fantasy section (it was truly horrific), I was done by the time it came to read with children, I read my emails, I took the massive pile of book returns behind my desk and… and so on, until 4pm. And since it’s essay season, it won’t end there.

Essay season is the time of year when I do not have minutes to spare. Usually in this period I will sit during my work lunch break with my laptop on my knee, munching lame sandwiches whilst I transcribe quotes from hardback book to document. After work I will go straight to the library via some kind of fast food (thank you, Japanese Canteen Tottenham Court Road) and work until I can’t concentrate or can’t stay awake anymore. This week is even worse than usual for work-and-uni balance: not only is it a four-day week (although fuck me, I was glad of the extra day of weekend, and spent most of it in coffee shops working) with less time in which to accomplish things, I have two major dates in my calendar by which a certain amount of things need to be done. Both of which are Thursday. One of which I need somebody else to have done something for.

You know what’s amazing, though? I’m stressed as fuck but I’m not frazzled. I’m now engaged in a setting where I don’t have time for anything that’s not a priority and my job is getting through those priorities as efficiently as possible. I can do efficient, smiley robot really very well, I know I can do all of these tasks and I know I will enjoy hitting all of those deadlines – repeatedly – with a hockey stick, driving them into the ground by the pointy end.

Historically, it has not been because of the pressure, but the moment after the pressure eases that the problems have occurred. That is the moment that I take a breath and find myself having a panic attack at the brutal fact that my workload has not eased despite all the things I’ve accomplished, that the bar I set for myself is still so high that I’m doing metaphorical chest hangs to keep myself happy – essentially, when I find out that life goes on no matter how badly or how well you do. Maybe that’s a comforting thought to some people, but not to me.

This year, though, I have done something very sensible – I have taken holiday for the end of essay season. Not time off to work in. Nope. Not time to travel in, either. Time off to sleep and do something nice and not achieve anything. Then maybe I can come back into work and be satisfied with the lighter pressure of the never-ending, non-urgent tasks.

Say it with me – holiday. HOL-I-DAY. HOLIDAY IS COMING.

The Importance of Rest Day

Today, I am tired. Dog tired, tired of life, tired to my bones… all the kinds of tired there are. That really scuppers my plans! I wanted to go from work to university tonight and spend hours in the library, bashing out one of my essays until I had at least doubled the words I have at the moment. I had planned for today – hard graft. Saturday – up early, hard graft to the finish. Friday – swim and sleep. Sunday – run at the essay for my other module (which I have started, and have researched for, but need to begin writing more than a skeleton and quotes). Monday – more of the same.

I’m having to sit and think of things to be proud of myself today. They are there: I have actually got tonnes done at my work, stuff my line manager and another staff member asked; I am ready to get back and blitz it for the afternoon. I have tidied, helped several students and changed a display. I made it to work despite grotesque struggles with public transport (y u have a fire at Regent’s Park station, TfL??). I have achieved things, things that needed to be done and things that nobody else would have done.

What I am going to do now, for the sake of my physical and mental health (as well as my stress levels) is move rest day to today, and remind myself that I am not wasting my life, I am not shirking, that it is more productive to banish the tiredness now and work on my essay tomorrow. The importance of resting has been something I have not recognised until now, and it makes me feel lazy and like I will not deserve the meagre grade I am destined for. But I am so sleepy I just spelled ‘meagre’ and ‘grade’ wrong, and it is more productive to have one day of rest and one day of amazing work than it is to have two days of substandard zombie work.

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This is me today. I have managed to alphabetise things and sort out very important orders and tidy despite wanting to crawl into a cold lake, hooray.

To-do (today!):

  • Send off application for DREAM JOB (it’s already been proof-read by three people, I can do no more).
  • Swim. Just a half-hour swim is SO manageable.
  • Eat a healthy evening meal.
  • Post an instagram.
  • Avoid politics, social planning and controversial discussion. Probably no facebook.
  • Get an early night!

Four Weekends.

I have four weekends until my next uni essay is due in. Two bank holidays. One evening of plans in all of that, and yet… I am irrationally worried that I won’t get my work done. The anxiety is creeping up on me like a sitcom kiss, present in all my conversations like a season finale, making the hairs on the back of my neck rise at the slightest thought of anything I ought to be working on.

The problem is – and that is if this can be called a problem – I care. This is the first thing in my life that I have felt really driven to succeed at, the first that I have felt that it is possible to succeed whilst actually wanting to. In my mind, that has manifested as a demon that whispers ‘if you fail it’s your fault‘. I know I’m capable, but I’m scared of finding out I’m not. When that’s combined with ambitions for a top grade, normal job/social life pressures and the fact that everybody else I know graduated years ago, it stops being just about procrastination and getting my fucking act together, it feeds off my poor brain chemistry to cause crippling inertia and several interconnected and irrational fears.

meta-chart

Essentially, what anxiety is telling me to do is cancel all my plans and curl up into a ball. That part of my brain wants me to cancel my plans so that I can work on my essay, whilst knowing full well I will not be able to work on my essay in this time due to mind being all over and regrets and fear of failure and mania. Fear of incorrect citations is new, and I’m not super sure what to do about it, other than ignore it and check it at the end.

Usually what I do in this time is go to the library – you can’t watch Drop The Dead Donkey re-runs in the library because people would glare at you, and it’s much more compelling to work than it is to stare off into space so I end up getting (some) work done, even if I’m not in the right frame of mind. But the library is closed for Easter, and it’s cold in my room and easy to be distracted.

If anybody has any motivation tips, I would really appreciate it. This is my big bug-eyed first-world-problem demon, and I need to stab it in the neck.

darth-mauls-death-o

Whilst I was writing this, the friend I was supposed to be seeing tonight cancelled our plans and gifted me a free evening. To work! At my nice clean desk that I tidied yesterday! Yes! Work! I wanted to see the friend not the theatre production anyway.