It’s that time of year again

The time when the exam timetables have been released and I have to start trying to convince myself that I do really enjoy the ins and outs of axiomatic set theory and combinatorics. This time though it comes with slightly raised stakes. Apparently the final exams are worth quite a bit and it is useful to have a degree for later life.

So here I am, the sun is being sunny outside, I have no particular place to be for another couple of weeks and have easy access to both a bike a rowing boat. What am I doing with my time? Sitting at a desk with a pad of bright, shining blank paper and a biro. That counts as revision, right? I can leave it at that and just get on with browsing the funny cat pictures on Reddit around the slight inconvenience that is taking up the room on my desk? I know it doesn’t work like that but somehow, as soon as I sit down to work and open my laptop to find syllabuses (syllabi?), I find myself inexplicable drawn towards all the sites I shouldn’t be on. I don’t even care what my friends are eating for breakfast but there is the Facebook tab. I’m not expecting an email from anyone but there is Gmail. Next to that is the latest XKCD strip and a thread or two from Reddit. Buried amongst these is the university page that I should be on but it’s sitting there judging me so I’m ignoring it. I’ve not even made it past the sign in screen.

I’ve often wondered what it is that makes it so hard to actually start working. I don’t even think it’s boredom or disinterest. I often look forward to doing things that still get postponed as often as possible. The conclusion I’ve come to is that in my current state I have so many options open to me. So many things could happen. I could sit and revise and pass everything with flying colours. That would be good. I could sit and revise and find it really difficult but then slowly learn it all to the extent that it is easy. This would also be a good outcome. What I’m afraid of is the reality of sitting down and not being able to do it. Not be able to work through it and then fail having spent ages trying. If I’m going to fail, I’d rather have not wasted time beforehand and that is the risk that is stopping me. The problem is that the moment I start working, the possibilities close up. I’ll then know how it’s going to go. I’ll be reminded that it’s not easy. That I’m going to have to work bloody hard to achieve anything this year.

The prospect of revision has always been a good one. I like the idea of learning stuff well enough for exams to be the almost enjoyable affairs they were at school when I got away with not having worked. I don’t want that ideal to be shattered by the reality of not enjoying it or it not going well. To be able to get myself to revise I need to convince myself it’s not fun, not enjoyable and definitely not easy. This seems a little backwards.

So here goes. I’m going to spend today (or what is left of it) revising, discovering how badly I’m going to do and beyond all else confirming that revision is, in fact, very boring.

Ooh, look at the cat falling out of a cardboard box…

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