When it comes to uni work, I have two main modes of thought;
- feeling like I’ve faked my way into doing this well, and don’t deserve the grades and feedback I’ve received.
- feeling annoyed with myself because I should be doing more and better.
And knowing that’s completely illogical doesn’t help.
At the moment I get a lot of anxiety doing academic work. The work is so on the surface fun- thanks to interesting topics, new tasks beyond standard essays, and the atmosphere that I soak up during teaching blocks- that being anxious feels more dissonant and therefore somehow worse than what I experienced during college.
The idea of “writing an essay”- sitting down to write it, even a part of it- makes me freeze up. I lose focus very easily, and getting stuck even for a short time leads to thinking that the task is impossible for me, that I don’t be able to do it correctly, that I’m doing everything wrong- a spiral of thoughts expanding to bring in less and less relevant but more and more catastrophic ideas. When I start to get worried about what I’m doing I can go from fine to shutting down in about 5 minutes; the amount of times I’ve reduced myself to head-in-hands panicking by my own thoughts would be impressive if it wasn’t so annoying.
My writing science portfolio was pretty much the epitome of both thoughts.
Firstly, because I get a lot of doubt over anything involving non-academic writing anyway; second, because writing the feature article part of the portfolio involved having to interview people.
I found the first interviewee through a twitter hashtag ( #journorequest ) which led to an email conversation. My second email “interview” was actually the charity copy-pasting answers from their website, which was worrying as I thought I wouldn’t be able to use what they had said.
I got too anxious to phone anyone, so I kept putting it off and putting it off …then I only had a week left to finish it and realised that I’d probably messed it up whatever happened. So I got it done using just the emails, and somehow recived a 67 for it. (I give up on trying to predict what my grades will be).
For actually getting it done, the majority of my progress was because I rephrased the task- that new document became “getting a list of definition for my key words” then “getting some examples of specific points” so that when I actually get to “writing the essay” I won’t get distracted by a research rabbit hole.
Tricking myself into doing something small scale then letting momentum do the rest has somehow been the most successful thing I’ve attempted. I have to reduce the work down to its parts, almost forcing myself to deliberately make something really messy and badly written just so there’s a base to start from, so I don’t freeze up at the blank page.
I need to fix this before I get on to the bigger assignments, or I’ll spend more time worrying about them than working on them.