The past month has been… interesting. Interesting, in my book, is just a mask for a plethora of adjectives – good or bad.
I haven’t been at my best physically, mentally, or existentially. And like always, my chosen solution is to write a blog post about it. Self-reflection through writing does so much for me as a character: deep introspection, solidifying and recording thoughts, and proposing causes, effects, and improvements.
How did I get to this point? I would think that it was because I got a cold in the middle of June, but that’s not looking far enough. Let’s start when I decided to take an extra term to take CS 488: Intro to Computer Graphics.
After Spring 2017, I only needed 6 more courses to graduate. Of those 6 courses, only 1 had the requirement: be a third-year Psych course – easy. In Winter 2018, I could have taken 6 courses to complete my degree. But 6 courses? I had never taken 6 courses. Even with 4 courses, I have no free time. I wasn’t even going to take 5 courses because I wasn’t sure if I’d find 5 courses to my liking. Fortunately, I found 5 great courses. I specifically planned for a Winter term just to take Computer Architecture (CS 450) and enrolled in 4 wonderful Arts courses – Intro to Human Sexuality (SMF 204), Sexuality and Popular Culture (SMF 215), Psychology of Good (PSYCH 357), and Intro to Legal Studies (LS 101). All interesting courses that taught me a lot. I could have taken Intro to Sociology (SOC 101), but there was a group project (with, most likely, first years) which I did not want to do. And I would not have been able to take Graphics! So I didn’t do 6 courses.
Jump forward to Spring 2018, the term I’m currently in. The last term. All I need is 1 course to finish my Bachelor degree. Hooray! Being the CS major that I am, I wanted to take Graphics. I also wanted to be a full-time student (enrolled in 3 courses) just so I could get OSAP, the full-time bursary, and other benefits. Since I’m going to be living in Waterloo, I might as well be taking a full course load, right? I decided to take Graphics, Intro to Artificial Intelligence (CS 486), and Physiological Psychology (PSYCH 261). I wanted to take Personality (PSYCH 356), but it was at the same time as PSYCH 261. I was also attending Social & Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 200) lectures, but they got a bit boring when I didn’t do the readings.
I had this whole idea that I would have so much time to start my hobbies and just chill. I was so wrong. Graphics consumed me.
I blame Graphics, but a part of me knows that it’s not the reason for my current suffering. What went wrong and what is currently wrong: 1) I had the idea that I would barely have to work with only 3 courses. I should have known that regardless of the workload, I would always invest 100% of time and effort into everything that I do. Even if I were taking just 1 course, all my time would be dedicated to it. That’s just how I am. 2) I thought that I would have the same amount of motivation as I did when I needed 6 courses to graduate vs. when I only needed 1 course to graduate. 3) I started thinking about post-graduation life too early. I got too excited to start that new life.
Why I partly blame Graphics: 1) The course notes are crap. 2) The prof presents material from his own notes, the course notes, handouts, and images, all in mixed order, making it hard to follow. I am someone who needs to write a transcript of lectures with a copy of all materials so I can relive lectures when I’m studying. Hard to do that when photocopies of different sources are presented via overhead in class and not available electronically. The prof presents material in a manner suited for people who can just understand and remember things on the spot without writing anything down. This is clearly just a mismatch between teaching style and learning style. The prof is very good and I have high respect for him, we just don’t mesh well in a teacher-student relationship. 3) The prof is honest, strict, and sticks to his principles. On the first day, he said that absolutely no electronics are allowed. No prof in my 5 years of university has ever made a rule like that. He had other rules that he enforced. He was scary strict at first, but as the term went on, you could see his soft side. The problem is, there’s just something about how alike we are in persona that made me just not care. I feel like I really know him, meaning I know me, and knowing me, I could fail and recover from it. I don’t know where I’m going with this… 4) This is a difficult course. It would have been better if it were split into multiple courses, so the lectures could teach the OpenGL side of things as well. Because this course only covers physics and math. 5) Too much physics and math. Both of which I hate. It’s difficult for me to comprehend, especially when it’s explained too quickly. I’m pretty dumb in this area. Again, my fault.
Basically me and Graphics don’t mesh well. Leading me to this hopeless state where I cannot predict whether I will pass or fail. I had gotten used to knowing how well I would do in an assignment/exam/course, but now I have no idea. I’m scraping for marks. I’ve lost the bigger picture of learning cool things and applying it.
All evidence points to me already moving on from university, when university hasn’t run its course yet. I didn’t realized this until a few days ago.
It all started when I got a cold mid-June. I hadn’t gotten sick for 5 years. I remember getting sick the summer before first year, but after that, I was healthy. I attributed it to my immune system understanding that being healthy for studying/working was important to me. I was strong. I guess I let loose and in came the illnesses. I got a sore throat which lead to a cold. Then I had an inflammation in my gums which lead to shards of wisdom teeth (from my wisdom tooth extraction surgery in January 2017 over a year ago) coming out. About 2 weeks of physiological pain…
I was unable to finish the 4th Graphics assignment (got 40% somehow), but the prof decided to drop our lowest assignment grade! I rushed through my 2nd AI assignment, did a shoddy job on the 3rd question meant to be a group question, and somehow got a 95%. My poor health lead to negative consequences, which were cancelled out by some positivity. Excellent, right? My brain certainly didn’t think so.
Now, I don’t know what kind of mental issues I may or may not have, have had, or may have. All I know is that I would wake up not seeing a point in getting up. I would be fully awake for 3 hours in bed until I finally got up. I just couldn’t get up. I don’t know what it was. To fix that, I started ending my days earlier and getting to bed earlier. Now, when I wake up, I don’t check my iPod. I get up or I go back to sleep. I feel better now. I can see a tomorrow again.
Another issue is that I just don’t see a point in anything related to university anymore. At this point, I have passed all the requirements. I have a 70% in Psych without my last test, that means I’ve passed. I can give up. This is the kind of thinking that has gotten me to this point. See, I have this graphics project to do – it’s anything you want – you propose the objectives and you fulfill them. Sounds fun, right? Except I don’t feel like doing it. There are no consequences if I fail. It’s gonna look ugly on my transcript, but whatever. The transcript is useless. At the same time, I’ve already gotten started on it – I’ve spent around 12 hours this past week working on it and have gotten far on a game. Gameplay is pretty crappy, but it’s something. All week and I’ve only gotten 12 hours into it? I could do 12 hours in one day if I had the right motivation. But I don’t. I just don’t.
And that brings me here. The realization that I have learned all that I needed to learn from university. I have grown, matured, improved, evolved, whatever you want to call it. I have become a better version of myself. How do I know this? On my list of things to do after graduation, I have items such as reading Psychology papers, reading ethnographies, and exploring philosophical theories. “I hate reading” is something I have always said. But my time in university has taught me that I absolutely love learning. I want to be like Sherlock Holmes, where I can spew random facts when the occasion calls for it. If reading leads me to more knowledge that I can apply to my understanding of the world, my life, and others’ lives, then read I shall. University has allowed me to explore various topics – psychology, anthropology, legal studies, and human sexuality. One topic I never really liked was science, but Physiological Psychology showed me how much I love learning about biochemistry. I think that really was the last topic I needed to explore. Understanding how the body/brain works is truly fascinating. I know that now. I would never have learned that had I not been able to explore different fields. I am grateful for my time here, but it’s time to move on. It’s time to take what I have learned about myself, others, and the universe and take it to the next level. I have honed the skill of self-learning and am ready to dive into the deep end of the library of the universe.
Other things that lead me to this point that I will not dive into: the philosophical themes SYFY’s The Magicians poses, my friend pissing me off being an irresponsible, dirty roommate, being addicted to Maplestory M, me starting to get less angry about people wearing fragrances and just letting it kill my brain cells, and the fact that I still don’t officially have a full-time job at the place I want to work at even though we’ve been discussing it for months.
This term is like that time I came out of my mother’s womb. I was ready for my new chapter, but I had to let the natural processes push me out. All I could do was wait. Less than a month left. I’m crowning out, but one can only slide out of the womb so fast. I’m ready to leave this life behind and begin a new one.
Writing all of this out made things a bit clearer. I’m done with this chapter of my life. What happens happens. I don’t know if things will improve until it’s over, but I know that it’s not important if it does. Life is about getting good at lying to yourself. Maybe I’m just lying to myself when I say it’s not important. Maybe not. Humans are so complex. So much went right for me to be here. I am grateful for my existence. I am grateful for everything – the good times and the bad. What will I do today? What will I do tomorrow? Only time will tell? Only I will tell. Whatever I choose to do, I will move forward even if it feels like I’m moving backward. As long as I reflect on my actions, I will learn from them.
Solution: wrote a blog post about it.