I just bombed my first month of classes. Seriously bombed it. Showing up late, with typo incomplete papers, having total mind blanks on basic historical facts in my field. Even trying to think feels like work, I can’t remember basic facts, and my brain feels “cloudy”. Since last summer (2015) I’ve been on a downward spiral of academic shoddy work/failure/inactivity. Either I (1) need to change now, or (2) I don’t think I was cut out for this. I feel like I’ve been going academically-senile. It’s been ten years since I enrolled as a Freshman in a university, and maybe my brain is at its limit.
What I am going to try to do:
(1) stop this shame-sleeplessness-procrastination(by reading slowly and doing extraneous language work)-panic-failure-shame routine. First step, I am not going to feel bad. If someone has to listen to a shoddy presentation or an incompetent book report, well, no irreparable harm done. At the worst, their tender heart writhed in pity for me the pathetically stupid would-be-scholar, but presumably their heart will recover.
(2) Get off of caffeine. I’m up to 3-4 cups a day of super-concentrated coffee, and I can’t think straight without it.
(3) wake up at 5 am and do three full hours of dissertation-and-class-related work. First thing, every day.
(4) start working on every presentation the day after it was assigned. Complete a rough draft of every class work the Friday before the week it is due.
(5) make a daily plan for finishing this dissertation in a year (by January 2017). Make a standard for myself that is actually livable, and then don’t beat up on myself all the time. Also, stop thinking my academics are going to save the world. That was the problem. I was driven by inspiration, and that inspiration is gone.
My brains are no longer young. Shame and panic and inspiration have all burnt me out, I’m no longer smart or spry enough to get though with that. Let me at least aspire to a B-quality level of work and plug through this. And maybe I’ll drop out and join the Peace Corps, or go to a village in Africa, or something. I need a break from books, from my medieval ideals, and from America.