I’ve been MIA for for so long and I blame my final year at college. Medicating with an overdose of books, TV and music has been the result of an overload of work and the past two weeks wrapped up in end of term exams have really left me in need for some music.
Here’s the latest scrip:
Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld
Statues by Alexandre Desplat
Pitter Pat by Erin McCarley
Don’t Look Down by Martin Garrix
Your Type by Carly Rae Jepsen
The Night is Still Young by Nicki Minaj
Classic by MKTO
Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight and the Pips
A week of exams had me left deflated through out, with a severe lack of motivation to study when all I really wanted to do was read A Clash of Kings and watch Game of Thrones. Yet I suppose Tyrion Lannister’s words never seemed better fit for life than now:
“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”
By far one of my favourite quotes from a book, it has led me to think of exams in a different albeit greatly dramatized perspective, more or less to make it seem worthwhile as I question their necessity…
There are battles and wars fought with swords and gunfire, skilled in bodily strength but there are trials and tribulations to test the mind as well. They are now, in modern times, called examinations.
It is known how wars are not won in a single day but by fighting many battles and triumphing. Examinations, it can be said, are a war of their own in which our plethora of subjects ranging from arithmetic to psychology serves as battles.
Just as swords are sharpened on stone, so too is a mind with the aid of books. Knowledge is a powerful and complex weapon, you see. It can win wars just as well, perhaps better, than a spear through an enemy’s eye.
Armed to conquer mathematics we wield swords of logarithms and formulae of circumference and integration. Against, literary theory we load our crossbows and let it slip arrows showering terms of ‘binary opposition’, ‘polymorphously perverse children’ and ‘ostranenie’ like fire upon a battle field. Wearing armour doused and oiled in ‘electric potential’, ‘escape velocity’ and ‘restitution coefficient’, we shield ourselves against physics. With these abstract weapons and shields, we go off to defeat exam after exam, slaying biology, french and chemistry alike… or perhaps they slay us.
In the end, we come out as victors or the overthrown. I hope the victors do not aggrandize their conquests nor that the overthrown diminish their capabilities.
Because they are inevitably meant to fight more wars, years to comes, term after term with the coming and going of pleasant summers and foul winters.
It is my solemn hope that we do not lose track of what we are truly (or perhaps somewhat falsely) fighting for.
As a university student studying in a triple major system initially I summed it up as being the jack of all trades and the master of none. However, a background in psychology actually helped me cram for my Lit final (making it feel a lot less like cramming), in ways I never thought possible. Questions and self theorising sprouted from these moments of insight, perceiving connections between the two humanities subjects where there are no formulae to dictate direct proportionality as in physics and mathematics.
As I began reading T.S Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ , thoroughly disinterested as my eyes skipped over the epigraph, by the end where Prufrock claims to be drowning in his own self, I was hooked. More than that, I wanted to analyse his personality to answer the wave of unappeased questions flooding into my mind. Why was he so unloved by women became a more often overlooked observation as to why Prufrock did not love himself. This may be the reason why Eliot changed the initial title of his poem ‘Prufrock among the Women’.
Eliot’s adept writing skills are demonstrated in this poem, experimenting with the form of the dramatic monologue by removing the implied listeners and substituting them with Prufrock’s own self. How you may ask? Well go back to the start and read the first line, ‘Let us go then, you and I’. You and I are said to be the two personalities existing within the same persona, that of Alfred J. Prufrock-one which is shy and ashamed and another longing to be loved and looking for attention. This is an example of a rift between the real self and ideal self that exists within the same individual. The greater dissimilarity between the two, the greater one is dissatisfied with oneself. Such is the case of Prufrock.
On reading the poem it is clear that Prufrock is a wallflower watching the world from his introverted perspective and he has lived long enough to wish that he were a part of the scene he was surveying. When Prufrock discusses the tedium of small talk and how he cannot indulge in the same, it is apparent that he is an introvert wanting to be an extrovert thus causing his dissatisfaction. This is probably what brought on what I consider to be a midlife crisis as he laments ‘I grow old…I grow old…’ Also, his self esteem seems to be attached primarily to attention received by women and hence both are severely lacking. These are only some contributing factors to his inner turmoil which in turn defines him.
Now, moving on from poetry to prose, I started reading ‘A Room of One’s Own’, the feminist bible written by Virginia Woolf.
When she said, “A woman, in order to write fiction, must first have money and a room of her own.”, she inadvertently propounded the basic thesis underlying Maslow’s hierarchy, the humanistic approach to motivation. Maslow stated that in order for higher level needs such as the development of self esteem and close relationships to be satisfied, lower level needs of food, water, shelter and security need to be taken care of first. Only then will any individual become self actualised, a state wherein they find their unique potential and unlock it. By saying money and physical space are needed to cultivate the mind’s creativity, Woolf is saying just that-in a perhaps more literary manner. So did Woolf, the author of the feminist bible, unknowingly stumble upon the groundwork of a well known psychological theory? Yes but she was far too busy speaking about Oxbridge and Shakespeare’s imaginary sister Judith to realise. This calls into question whether, if Woolf had been the one to propose the hierarchy in her time, would it have been published in scientific journals and become as well established as it is today? It’s a difficult question and it seems as if only Virginia Woolf herself could have answered it. Ah, the irony.
Students across the world know how stressful exams can be and sometimes the stress of it all can really get to you, whether it’s coming from school or at home.
When asked what all this pressure does to the students mentality, clinical psychologist Dr. Brunda Amruthraj said, “Students tend to equate their self worth to their test performance, resulting in increased stress and inability to accept failure.” She continued to say that, during this time, students should follow the 4P’s:
Planning and Organization:The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that, contrary to popular belief, spacing out study sessions is more effective than studying for long hours. In an attempt to plan, rather than scheduling long sessions concentrating on a single subject, cognitive psychology research shows that mixing up different subject topics can help long term learning.
Positive Psychological Makeup:Having a positive attitude can go a long way, boosting confidence and self-esteem which are crucial for students at this time. Performing well in an exam is just as much about mental preparation than actual studying.
Physical exercise: Sports lovers will be glad to know kicking around a football or going on a run can actually be beneficial as it stimulates increased blood flow to the brain. While watching TV and listening to music are effective stress busters, physical activity provides the best cognitive break.
Prayer:Religious prayers or even personal prayers foster a spiritual connection, providing students with peace of mind and reassuring them that they are not alone.
With stress hormones like cortisol and serotonin jumping through the roof, some foods students can eat to reduce anxiety are almonds, oranges, spinach and oatmeal. A glass of milk before going to bed can really help with nerves and relieve muscle tension brought on by stress.