I haven't done a writing update for a while, and I have a big week up ahead with regards my writing and my degree, so I thought this was a good time for one. Hopefully it’ll help minimise my stress over the next eight days.
The nerves are already kicking in, and the stress is beginning to build. I've got nine days off work, but it's not to relax; I have an end-of-module Assessment to write, and I'm already feeling the pressure.
For those who don't know, I am studying Psychology with Counselling with the Open University, and I am presently on my third module of six. I passed the first two easily enough, but they don't count towards the final grade. From this module on, everything I do determines whether or not I achieve the degree I'm working towards, and this assignment counts for 40% of the marks for this module.
My aim is to finish my studies with a 2:1 degree, and I am well on my way to achieving that. With the Open University, the threshold for a 2:1 is 70%, with 85% representing a first-class degree. So far this module, I have scores of 90, 78, 92 and 87 per cent, so my average score of 86.75% places me in the ranks for a first-class degree. Even so, that is not my aim, for two reasons.
The first is that replicating ongoing assessment scores in an end-of-module assignment is tricky, due to the work being focused on 27 weeks of study, rather than four or five weeks of information. Tying together a module's worth of data and information into one assignment is a more complex endeavour, as shown by my previous end-of-module scores being lower than my average assignment score. With two-fifths of the marks for the module coming from this assignment, that shows me I need to be pragmatic with my ambitions.
The second reason I am not aiming for a first, despite demonstrating the ability to achieve one thus far, is my mentality. One of the most important things in life is to know yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses. One of my strengths is being able to take information from various sources and formulate it into an idea, theory or plan that is both understandable and effective; this is the case in many aspects of my life, and is the reason why I am scoring so well in these assignments. One of my biggest weaknesses is stress management, and another is completing what I have begun.
I know, for a fact, that I'll be stressed-up to the eyeballs come Wednesday evening. I'll be grumpy, I'll be little fun to be around, and I'll be ranting and raving to anyone who will listen about wanting to quit my course. I'll be saying it's pointless, that it's never going to go anywhere, that the assignment makes no sense, that employment opportunities for that degree are limited where I live and my time would be better spent focusing on my writing. Then, I'll stay up all night and somehow manage to get a draft done, and then I'll have a sleep, feel better, edit it down to the word count, accept it'll never be good enough and post it anyway, and be glad that I never gave up. It happens every time, and I do worry that, one day, I'll actually follow through on my agitated desire to withdraw. That's why I say just completing the degree will be a bigger achievement than whatever score I get, and it's why I refuse to aim for, or put the pressure on myself to achieve, a first-class degree. I just don't have the mental strength, and by accepting that, it means I have a chance of finishing the course.
People will say, 'you can do it, Lawes. You have shown that already,' but they don't know me as well as I know me. The only reason I am still doing the course now is because I have accepted that I cannot achieve the highest grades. The aim of my degree isn't to achieve the best degree ever, anyway. It's to obtain a key that unlocks doors for me in the future, and to prove to myself that I can achieve something that, at one stage, I would've thought impossible. Like I wrote about in The Curse of Perfectionism, the assignment is but a chore that needs completing so that I can get to the next thing in line, the thing that I trick myself into believing will really change my life, and I refuse to let my perfectionism obstruct my chances of achieving something.
Of course, I'm not one to make it easy on myself. In the course of my EMA week, I also have three FPL Nightmare articles to write. I've already been advised by some to bundle the last three essays into one bumper end-of-season blog, but that would be cheating. Plus, I actually think it will help keep my mind sharp, and stop it from becoming bogged-down by the university stuff. The timing of the EMA could be better, and this is a big challenge, but challenges are there to be risen to and that's what I'm looking forward to doing.
Then, come next Tuesday, the pressure will all be off. No FPL articles to write until August, no university stuff to think about until October. Finally, an extended run of free time where I can knuckle down and get this novel finished. I'm up to 60,000 words at the minute, and my only ambition for the summer is to get the rest of it written so I can move on from it. The novel is based heavily on my mental health experiences, and it celebrates the people and events that have helped me through them all. Plus, if I do say so myself, it's shaping up to be a cracking read. It makes me nervous to say that, because what I have is still raw, but by the time it is finished it'll be well worth your time. If you know me and my friends, you'll probably recognise elements of them in the characters and stories that take place. I also intend to write some longer essays on some subjects that are important to me, and I'm waiting until the summer so I can research them properly.
So, one super-stressful week, then a summer of creativity, writing, unwinding and enjoying life to look forward to after. I can't wait. I have a little treat for myself that I've been saving, too. For Christmas, I received a copy of the Final Fantasy VII remake. I loved the original so much - it was the first game that made me question whether Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past was the best game ever - and I've been saving the remake for the end of my module, both to prevent distraction and as a motivator to keep me going. It's been months in the making, and now I just need to wait one more week, and I'm ever so excited.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Song of the Chapter:
'Back to School (Mini Maggit)' by Deftones
Quote of the Chapter:
"We’re all critics, we’re all so good at recognising what’s shitty about something … but then we’re all so bad at making something. So just make something bad and then criticise it until it’s good."
"One of the most insightful works I've read on mental health problems in men ... very well-written and a real page-turner. I would recommend it to anyone.
Dancing With Disorder
"It communicates a deep understanding of troubled individuals who suffer from the challenges of mental disorders ... Courageous, wise, humorous and thought-provoking ... an easy-to-read, surprising and subtly moving chronicle.
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