The year 2008 ends about 16 hours from now. I hate this time of year. The end of the year makes me take stock of everything that has been done in the past 12 months and makes me apprehensive about the upcoming 12. Everyone feels the same at this time of year, I am sure, but I deserve at least twice volume of sympathy as everyone else since my birthday is on January 2nd. As I discussed in my The Desire For Change essay around this time two years ago, I take this double-whammy of socially constructed stock-taking very seriously.
It is so strange to find that I wrote that certain blog almost two years ago – the time has gone by so quickly. Yet when I was searching through old blog entries to find the linked piece, I read a few older entries from around that time which gave me some unexpected food for thought: the blogs I was writing in 2007 and beyond refer to a “Golden Age” of my blog – in other words, at that time I thought my blog was going to come to an end; was on the decline. Yet even now, it is still going – albeit via a different site and written in a different – I would go as far as improved – style.
So, is the desire for change I experience every New Year a catalyst for improvement? I think so – it gives me time to reflect, even though getting to that stage means I have to go through an emotional trough. I do think that I have SAD, which affects me every winter. I usually get to my lowest around February; but there is a marked low at the end of every December.
I think maybe this lull is to do with the effects of weather on one’s social life more than anything else. I get out far less when it is freezing outside than I do when shorts are practical. There is a real distinction between winter and summer in that respect – I associate summer with fun and parties, as well as a serious break from uni work. This year, summer was not all that up to scratch. There was nothing remarkable about it; no holidays and I felt quite separated from friends throughout the hotter months.
Next summer adds a new element – it is prospectively the last summer that I will have during education. I need to get a job – hopefully in journalism, but something full-time, regardless – whenever uni finishes in May. Until then, I need to have as many dirty student parties as possible.
This is especially important because I’ve been thinking about my experience as a student, and it makes me think that I have not taken to the role as strongly as others. My course is very practical, with only 20 students in a year group at one time. Very few lectures actually took place with students in numbers beyond 50, so it felt at times like I was somehow missing out on the experience of my peers. I also meet people who just seem to be into the student experience more than I am – actually giving a shit about the union and “student life” in general – and I just feel like I can’t compete with these “hegemonic students”*.
*I have taken to labelling pretty much everything and everyone I value as Better Than Me with this term, regardless of how completely incorrect it is in these contexts.
I told Regular Reader Angela about this problem, and she told me the opposite – compared to her own student experience, where she had been in lectures like those I felt I had missed out on; on a less practical course, she felt that I had made much deeper friendships with people on my course.
Reading my old blogs from when I was in the seminal years of my undergraduate studies (and was still able to write as if I didn’t have a plum stuck in my proverbial throat), I realise that in fact, I did have a great time as a student and took part as much as anyone else. Things just get distorted in my mind, both at the time and in memory. I seem to worry about every aspect of my life, my image, and especially how I compare to other people. I think how I see myself is especially distorted because I can’t actually judge myself beyond how other people act around me or what they say; so any information garnered is second- or third-hand ideas – with a liberal amount of bias thrown in, one way or another – which is difficult to judge by. In my memories, I am still as flakey and undecided about a given time in my past. Reading over blogs written at a certain time, I am taken back to that time and I see myself as much more well rounded and far less fragmented, so by extension I realise I must be more well rounded than I see myself right now.
At the same time as looking at my old blogs, I was listening to Mystified by Fleetwood Mac, which is a song that takes me back about a year and a half to summer 2007 when Angela, Robert and I would look after the houses of people we knew who were on holiday; like a skewed Babysitters Club. Essentially, this is what I look forward to when summer comes back around – something quirky and fun to make up for the lost summer of 2008.
Overall, my state of being right now is fragmented, due to the suspected SAD and nostalgia trip. My future is very uncertain and I have a lot of work to do, so not only am I trying to take stock of the past, but also of everything I need to do in the the upcoming year.
At some point I need to go back to uni with at least some of my dissertation done. It should come as no surprise that I have hardly done any work over the Christmas break, but I am trying to build up my reading. I go back to uni at the end of January, I believe, and am prepared to get back to hard work. I am also joining a band as piano player, for which I have a lot of pieces to learn. They have also been shelved due to the winter despondancy.
I have four months of uni to go until it is officially over and I have to look for a grown-up job. Thus, I have five months of my life planned. I have a five month plan! Five months! That means I should have started thinking about this AT LEAST a month ago. This is panic stations, people. I am panicking about my future. And yet I am so fragmented. So how can I even come up with a solution!?
I can’t. That’s the solution, I can’t. That has always been the solution. I have always just gone head-first into my life, with uni and with everything else. After five months, I just don’t have the safety net of studenthood to catch me. I am to jump off the educational cliff like a degree-wielding lemming.
Angela and I have spoken about getting a flat together. The problem is that I can’t say yes or no – I do plan to move out as soon as I get a job (my current joe-job makes moving out economically invalid and I like it too much to find something else), but where and when I actually get a job makes things much more difficult.
So, whereas The Desire For Change set out to change my personality or whatever at New Year 2007, the 2009 edition is more to do with changing my mindset, from actually giving a shit about my future to otherwise. There is really nothing I can do right now beyond set my mind to doing as well as possible with my dissertation and trying to find a job in an increasingly tight-budgeted industry when the time comes.
That’s what it comes down to – a Kurt Vonnegut style humanist slogan: worry about it when the time comes.
I am my own Dr. Phil.