Thursday, October 18, 2012

Futility of effort

There comes a time in every young girl's life when she realizes that she knows nothing. Well, perhaps not to that extreme, but she learns that she knows a lot less than she ever dreamed she'd know about a subject that she's allegedly supposedly to be learning about.

I've been getting this feeling a lot sitting in my lectures here in London.

Whereas at my school in the states I tend to discover hidden bouts of knowledge, or become introduced to a subject and grow interested in it over time, since I've been here I've taken class after class and I still just can't quite process the point.

Which makes things all the more difficult now that I'm in the process of starting papers. Well, tomorrow anyway. Or maybe the day after that. Whenever I have time, I guess, since I have no initiative to actually sit in the library and do some work.

At the moment I stand on a precipice of important decisions. On one end is that slacker side of me who always wants to sit inside and watch television on her laptop. I have an episode of Downton Abbey to catch up on. How could I possibly do anything productive? On the other end is the girl who has consistently gotten good (or acceptable) grades and who knows that the key to a successful future is devoting the necessary time and effort to schoolwork, even when it seems mundane and pointless.

Today in a political science class, we sat around discussing the worth of this vote that took place to try to change the electoral system in England recently. The discussion involved a lot of conjecture as to whether or not a change in the electoral system would benefit the government and the people, or whether it would make any change at all.

As someone who appreciates the study of politics and who wants to be better informed about the function of governments in various societies, I embrace the debate whole-heartedly. But sometimes it can seem a daunting (and fruitless) task to try and make arguments as to the value of gargantuan political decisions when you sit in a university building surrounded by fellow 20 year olds, many of whom have only taken a couple of other political science classes in their life.

Many times, I just end up sitting in the corner observing because I feel like I offer nothing constructive to the discussion. Perhaps because I'm all too aware of how useless my input would be. Not within the structure of the class, but in the grand scheme of things.

I think this has become my way of thinking in a lot of my classes. As much as I'd like for my words to have power and use in the world, the more I think about my assignments, the less positive I am about the value of my arguments in a world where there really are so many conflicting notions and so many loud voices.

So this is the state through which I enter the first of two seasons of essay-writing at my English university. And though I wish I had the enthusiasm to go forth and commit acts of writing (I take this phrase from "commit acts of journalism," which is one I've heard pop up frequently as a journastudent), I keep looking at all of the work before me and feeling the weight of my own insignificance - the futility of my efforts.

I guess part of my philosophy on life revolves around the knowledge that whatever I do may never amount to much, but as an overall goal I hope to just be happy.

And in truth, being a good student has always made me happy.

So as I go forth into the next few days - and I guess weeks, and perhaps even months - I think I'll just throw down my hands and try to embrace the experience of learning again. As futile as it may seem, there gift at the end of the rainbow will come when I've finished with everything, look back, and feel the pride at having gotten from where I am now to where I will be then.

Hopefully it'll be worth the effort.

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