If you’ve never been a student before then you can’t possibly begin to comprehend what a dark month January is for many of us. January, for the majority of students in my experience, means the month of evil assessments.
It’s been an interesting month for my relatively sane alter-ego, who’s still somehow managing to pass himself off as one of them, despite suffering from the two biggest problems endemic within the student body: procrastination and perfectionism.
We know about the first one all too well. Delaying work (usually work that you actually enjoy) by distracting yourself with other, mundane activities that you can’t seem to find the time to do otherwise. I’m talking about rearranging your DVD collection (in the past I’ve tried ‘favourite to least favourite’, colour co-ordination, grouping together in terms of genre or director, and of course, the famous alphabetical order), tidying your long-neglected room/ study area, making a list of other little chores that you must somehow find the time to occupy yourself with, and one that has recently become my personal Achilles Heel; setting out an emergency work schedule that will enable you to get everything done if you stick to it completely. It doesn’t include breaks, but it’s great knowing that if you become a total machine producing his best work non-stop over ten straight hours, you’ll get all your work done. The only problem is you’ve spent more time admiring it than actually writing, and that should have started one hour ago. No matter, you’ll just sacrifice an extra hour of sleep to cover for it, right? – before realising you’d already sacrificed all available sleep.
More students appear to suffer from that first one than the second (probably because they’re more worried about which pub they’re heading to after the deadline), but unfortunately I’m strange in this respect. I like my work to be the best it can be (in my eyes, which may not necessarily correspond to what is the best work in the eyes of an academic – just to clarify), which has often caused obvious problems. It creates a certain paradox, because perfectionism requires time more than anything else, and time is often precisely what you find you don’t have enough of as a student – in fact, as an anything. I’m sure there are those in other professions, perhaps with ten or twenty more years of experience than myself, who find that there simply is not enough time in the day to complete all of the work that you wish to do. Things spill over. You have to allow for mistakes, give yourself an extended period of time for proofreading, and that’s before we even get started on the many hours of revision for exams, along with the added pressure they bring, especially if you don’t write half as fast as that dude sitting next to you using Roadrunner as a pen while breathing distractingly heavy.
Considering all of that, you can imagine why January has traditionally proved a traumatic and stressful month for all students, not least a perfect procrastinator such as myself. Long have I been trained in the student arts. The strangest thing is, despite all of the tiredness, the physical and mental pain that comes with making your work as good as it can be at the last minute, well, despite all of that, a part of me still kind of likes it. In fact, a part of me loves that adrenaline rush, and I think the rest of you would agree. Maybe sub-consciously, not openly, but you’d still agree. What other reason would there be for the self-harming technique known as procrastination?
However, assessments are not the sole reason January has been interesting. Oh no. They’re secondary compared to what else has been happening.
This month, I had a starring role in a harrowing black and white documentary filmed by a good friend who has taken it upon herself to keep a regular vlog (like a blog, only with a ‘v’) over an indefinite period of time.
It will now forever be known as the month that I got Pride and Prejudice in the Mail (someone clearly just forgot to inform me about it).