Crashing At Christmas

(excuse me while I go nap for an hour in between sentences)

I’ve said before that I don’t enjoy ‘conventional’ days off, in which people laze about and watch TV in their underpants; the lack of mental activity and feelings of completing tasks bores and annoys me, making me feel like I have wasted a day. That being said, this Christmas holiday has been one massive crash for me.

I’m not even playing Football Manager as much as I thought I would, because it’s too mentally stressful, even when results are going well, for my tired brain to comprehend; I’m spending the holiday wasting every day, until the evening rolls around and I can finish marathonning Battlestar Galactica and Sherlock with my family, before going to bed and starting all over again.

I think a reason for this was the amount of work I did last term; I’m not saying I worked harder than you, but I worked harder than I had done before for a prolonged period, getting through University applications, school work, further reading and God knows what else, for a solid four months or so.

And I was feeling burned out at the end of last term, getting lazy with my reading and the intelligence of my posts on here, and only scraping through doing the minimum schoolwork I had to. Sadly, that has continued this holiday, meaning I can’t do much beyond marathon old Job Hunters episodes.

This has meant getting back into working for school has been particularly difficult; despite only doing three subjects, and only having about five or so hours of work to do over the two weeks, I’ve managed to make it last as painstakingly long and end up disappointingly incomplete as possible; my ‘essays’ are just half-page crappy plans at this point that I’m calling ‘done’, but will require another two hours of work or so each within that first week back to complete on time.

But I’m okay with this; I’m realising that I’ll have about three hours of free periods a day at school because my Prefect work will stop, and I won’t have the added distraction of researching my interviewers and trying to decipher their philosophically mind-boggling essays on my mind too.

In the past, incomplete work scared me, to the point that I would pull all-nighters on something like a Tuesday, just to get all my work done as soon as I could; now, I don’t think my motivation to work has gone, but I’ve realised there’s a wall that, when hit, I can’t really do any more work of a decent quality.

I am aware of a trap here, in that I could either not do any work until the deadline with this realistic epiphany (as I think all teenagers do anyway), or could say I’ve hit my limit well before I have, and go off and play Pokemon Y. This is especially concerning when revising next summer, when all of the work done must be self-motivated; I’m in a position to go to a pretty fraking good University because I did a load of work in the past, and didn’t even consider there was a limit to the amount I could do; will my, seemingly understandable, realisation of this limit undermine my revision, which is based around multiple four-hour sessions a day, in May?

There is a more deeply concerning thing here, in that I may have hit my peak in terms of the work I can produce at sixteen, a worrying prospect for both University and real life; I might want to be a writer, a career which involves smashing your head against a keyboard for fifteen hours a day, every day for a decade to get half a book written, and so I worry if my metaphorical head-smashing days are now behind me.

I’ve long acknowledged the difference between conscious and subconscious motivation within my peculiar brain; the former is the basic desire to do the work necessary to reach a goal, while the latter is a series of deeper insights into the work that I’m doing, to understand the topic in a broad sense and on a more meaningful level; I had conscious motivation to work at maths, and so got an A at GCSE, but had not subconscious desire to understand it further, and so didn’t do it at A-level.

My concern is that I will simultaneously lose the conscious interest to slave away over a book for six hours in preparation for an exam, and the subconscious motivation to understand everything about that book because I really like literature and its analysis, losses that will leave me kinda screwed, both as an English student, and a bloke with a degree he’s not that interested in any more and thirsty grand’s worth of tuition fees to show for it.

I suppose only time will tell. If I get back to school and start my usual working routine again, I’ll probably not worry about this, and I won’t notice any difference between the kinds of motivation I feel until after school is completed and I’ll be able to look back at my time there without being a part of the specifically-focused whirlwind that is exam season.

And this pisses me off, because I want to know about me now, not wait to learn about seventeen-year-old James when he’s died and regenerated into twenty-year-old James. I guess I’m just impatient.

Oh, and I am aware of the laughable patheticness of this entire post, in that it shows my prioritisation of work above all else in my life, a prioritisation I agree with. I’m not sure why the importance I attach to work and thinking about work is so great – the theories I’ve had have been systematically disproved by real life events and epiphanies in the bath – so my simplistic, go-to answer right now is that I’m a loser. Any better ideas would be welcome.


Past James on Days Off

Job Hunters!


8 thoughts on “Crashing At Christmas

  1. Funny, I was actually going to blog about the crash and burn and then sleep excessively cycle that I lived for years and finally managed to escape this vacation/break. From someone on the other side, all I can say is good luck and don’t worry about it too much. I woke up 3 years into a degree and realized that I had lost what you call subconscious motivation. It was a bit of a shock, but I’ve made it through and now I’m doing something else I love (which I didn’t know existed when I was 16 and choosing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life).

    Also, you may have just experienced a short-term burnout. An excessive amount of sleep and mindless activity that spirals into boredom might cure it.

    1. Sleep is hard to come by – me and my family are trying to finish the last season of Battlestar before Monday, so we’ve got about 7 episodes to get through in 2 days. I’m also aware I’m too weak to stop watching it, so I think I’ll just have to put up with another week of crashing into the school term.

      What did you lose your subconscious motivation for, and what did you pick up after it? Writing that post made me realise I have no life plans beyond doing an English degree and then winging it, so I’m a little concerned now.

      1. Well, I’ve changed my life plans like ten times, so planning to just wing it would have been more a more accurate prediction of what I’ve done.

        I lost my motivation because I realized what I was working towards wasn’t what I thought it was. This (very old) post explains it:

        The semester after I posted this, I went on a study abroad to teach English simply because it was affordable and in Spain. Now I’m pursuing a graduate degree in that field (TEFL/TESOL). Who knows where I’ll be working or if I’ll actually teach English when I graduate. I’ve learned to not worry about that now.

        1. You don’t accept western medicine? What’s wrong with it – I accept that the means by which we distribute care and the stupidly close links it has with economics sucks, but on a purely biological level, is it not pretty good for keeping people alive and such?

          Also, if you’re a hard-working, competent and eloquent person (which you appear to be), I reckon you’ll be able to get a job somewhere – I’m banking on these traits to get me a means to buy food when I’m older, so I have more time to do interesting things. I’m not one of those people who sees a job as a thing you can do for simultaneous enjoyment and payment, but that might change as I actually get jobs.

          1. I think we do a great job with emergency medicine. At this point in history, we die from lifestyle diseases (diabetes, heart disease, obesity..), and I think that is where modern medicine fails. It is an industry based on profit. Doctors base their decisions on research, and the only research that gets funded is that which can make a profit. We don’t look into alternative medicine because alternative medicine can’t be patented and profited from.

            I’m not worried about getting a job. I guess I just have higher expectations that are perhaps a bit unrealistic. I want to have a job and enjoy it too. I also don’t want to feel like I’m working for an industry that takes advantage of people – which the medical industry does.

            1. I guess I don’t really consider the cost of medicine because I’m on the NHS, and I’m not interested in new research because all of my various ailments are already covered by medicine that works well enough. But you do know more about how the medicine industry works than I do, and I can see its basis on profit and such.

              And what do you mean by ‘higher expectations’? Like a sort of higher purpose, that you want to help people without getting involved in all the crappy details of how our society works?

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