Monday, 1 February 2010

When The Fun Goes South

I realise that actually sounds a little sexual. That’s not what I was going for, but heck I’ll leave it that way –

I was thinking about how much I enjoy reading. How much time I spend reading. Whether it’s a blog, website, newspaper, novel, philosophy, script or poetry I enjoy every moment of it – until I have to do it. Until I have to do it and be tested on how well I understood it. Those moments I not only have to do it and be tested on it but I have to throw in my own input. Suddenly thinking and reading becomes the last things I want to do in the world. Suddenly I’d rather do nothing.

How does that make any sense? How can something I love so much one minute suddenly become a nightmare I’m trying to avoid? So I spend more time than I can afford telling myself I can’t do it or I don’t want to do it or not even thinking about it at all – until every so often I just suck it up and sit down to do it. Once I start it’s fine, it’s just getting myself to start that I have a lot of trouble with.

I think it’s ‘cause I’m scared of failing; of not being good enough. So I don’t want to try. 

I don't want to think like this and I’m trying to push those thoughts away but it’s a bottom of my stomach kind of avoidance. The same sort of feeling I get if I have to tell someone something they don’t want to hear or ask to do something they might not want me doing.

Fear isn’t going to get me anywhere. Apart from left behind while the world speeds on by. It occurred to me that I’m actually scared of lots of little things. I’m not the sort of person that sees a mouse and screams or watches a horror movie and has nightmares, but I am the sort that see’s a microphone stand that’s too high and panics at the thought of having to be the person to fix it. The person that freaks out because she thinks she’s going to fail, but somehow can’t stop the freaking out and just get my head down to stop the failing. I’m getting better. I’m learning to organise my time better. But it's not like it's even enough.

It’s never been this hard before. School was a doddle, never had to work that hard; never had that much to do. For anyone that’s ever been part of the National Curriculum you know that they don’t want us thinking for ourselves or thinking outside of any boxes – school was just about memorising random crap to purge onto a page in an exam. Suddenly I’m learning, I’m thinking and I’m scared. Everyone around me (pretty much) went to private schools and read really fast and have been doing philosophy since they were little so they seem so much better at this than me (ok partial exaggeration going on but let it go). I chose philosophy on a whim. I was going to take law and realised it would be a nightmare and there was no way I could be a lawyer. I’m not emotionally strong enough to send people to prison, or to help murderers walk free.

I did some work experience with the CPS when I was 15 and went to a bunch of trials in the crown court and there was at least one occasion I started to cry. There was this black guy who was being done for assault and the police officers were giving their evidence. 10 white guys who were all reading notes from their little black note pads which they all sat down in the cafeteria and wrote together. Of course their stories are going to fit together, they can draft out what they’re going to say and compare notes. Of course this one man’s word isn’t going to be able to stand up to the word of 10 policemen. And I felt sorry for him, I could see in his eyes that they were screwing him over (maybe I’m just naïve).

But living off Old Kent Road in S.London for a year I saw the police take advantage of a fair few black boys from the council flats across the road, so I have little faith in their policing ability and think British Police are more like bullies.

Again I’ve gone off on a tangent. Now to suck it up and get this bloody essay out of the way. 


  1. I hate failing. Sometimes I say to myself that I'm just going to get it done. Most often, I hide behind the delusion that I'm getting it done, but I'm not doing a thing to move towards my goal.

    I think I'm most afraid of the feeling you get after you fail. It just sucks. If I ever get over that feeling, I can view failure as an opportunity to start again and apply something different to produce better results.

    For now, I'll live with my delusions...

  2. Many of us can relate, I guess fear of failing in universal, no matter what you do.

    It's hard for me too, to be faced with the challenge to speak (or write) my mind - wouldn't it be great if we could express our comprehension of deep things in common words?! I hate being formal.

    Kiss you.

  3. It's normal to be scared of failing, I suppose. But we have to learn to accept failure. Accepting failure not only allows us to revise our mistakes and learn from experience so we can achieve a better result next time, but it also helps to determine what you truly desire. Our minds are manipulated by the media and the masses of what failure is and that failure is a bad thing. If we are unable to live up to their expectations, we fail. But think about this. We cannot be good at everything and different people are good at different things. Instead of being told what failure is, you should decide what failure is by yourself since what they think is successful is not necessarily successful for you. Only through knowing what we truly want, we lead a happy life.

    When you start learning and thinking, you approach nearer to the truth. Though what is known might be painful, it's better than being deluded your whole life. This sounds like Plato's allegory of cave, but it's true.

    I am not sure whether reading really fast is a virtue. Some of my friends told me that they finished a book of Harry Potter's in 2 days and it was almost as if I had to give them a prize for that. But reading is something that needs to be enjoyed. I don't see how you can appreciate the author's style of writing and the sophistication of his ideas without spending a considerable amount of time on it.

    By the way, I can't believe there are so many people around you doing philosophy. It's like the exact opposite here and it makes me feel sad. And I don't think a poet can become a lawyer!


  4. I imagine every one is scared of failing. The difference between the people that succeed and the people that fail is those that succeed don't let the fear control them. I use it as an excuse to put things off, which is stupid and a waste. We're not here for that long, we may as well make the most of it. And heck, if I don't reach my mark, it's not like it's really the end of the world. At least if I try I can say I tried. If I don't even try and then fail I'll just regret being a waste gash for what's left of my life.

    But it seems like everyday I tell myself to man up and get on with it and it's only a matter of time before I'm freaking out about something else. Damn over emotional Pisces.

    And Kenia I find it hard expressing my thoughts too! It's like I'm not thinking in propositional sentences and I can't work out how to translate into something I can communicate. I also find it easier to talk about philosophical stuff casually than in essays - I can't get my head around logical language and stuff..

    William I am with you on the Plato and his cave bit. I think it's better to know than to live in delusion, even though it's a lot more stressful. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth staying in the ignorance just for the peace, but it would feel like a wasted life.

    We're not here for any reason so we may as well make reasons for ourselves. And I want mine to be the search for something like knowledge - but maybe not actually knowledge, 'cause I'm not sure it's possible

  5. I can't talk about philosophical stuff casually as I am not a good speaker. When it comes to writing, I'd prefer to write in essay style.

    Your last sentence sounds so epistemological. I don't find it possible either. After all, as Socrates said, 'I don't know anything except the fact of my ignorance.'


  6. William: I have to admit, I tend to take a bit of a Socrates sort of point of view on knowledge. The only thing I know is that I don't know anything.

  7. I've failed every exam after GCSEs, even after getting A's on the course work and even mock exams. When it happened the first time, I became scared of both my own psyche and failing, and it just kept happening. Perfecting everything, apart from the one thing that would prove that I have perfected it.