A Learning Curve
So January has come and nearly gone already! Usually I find this month somewhat sluggish but it has actually gone by really fast! I want to talk to you about something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently- learning curves. Second year comes with a lot of extra pressure and I believe that we can put too much of this on ourselves. I was speaking to my personal tutor recently and he said something that really resonated with me. He reminded me that we come to university to learn and that tutors don’t look at work and expect it to be 100% perfect. He said that university is an education and even professionals don’t get everything right all the time.
People always say that first year is a learning curve as your marks don’t count towards your degree classification. This is true but I really think that the idea of a learning curve is something that should stay with you for the entirety of your degree. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of wanting everything I write to be perfect. As I’ve learnt, this attitude is really no good for your mental health. I think that we all need to remember that if we knew everything about our subject areas, there would be no need for us to attend university. The majority of people decide to go to university because they want to learn more about a subject. This is going to sound awfully philosophical but the path to knowledge isn’t a straight and smooth one.
I’m a big fan of musicals and the lyrics to The Roses of Success from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) often come to mind when I’m feeling defeated:
“Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way!”
“For every big mistake you make be grateful!
That mistake you’ll never make again!
Every shiny dream that fades and dies,
Generates the steam for two more tries!”
“Disaster didn’t stymie Louis Pasteur!
Edison took years to see the light!
Alexander Graham knew failure well; he took a lot of knocks to ring that bell!”
I’m not going to say it doesn’t smart a little when everyone begins to discuss their grades and people seem to be doing ‘better’ than me. But I always take a step back and remember that success should be a personal goalpost. I know what I want to achieve by the end of my degree and I shouldn’t judge myself by order people’s standards. A PHD student on my course also reminded me recently that a degree isn’t all about grades. Without tooting my own horn (as I realise that everyone has their own issues to deal with), I have 100% attendance and get consistently great feedback from my seminar tutors. I manage to achieve all this whilst living with Cerebral Palsy, a condition that constantly likes to suck all of the energy out of me. As I just said, this is in no way a judgement on other people, I just think it’s important for me to recognise how well I do to just exist day to day.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that learning curves are called curves for a reason. There is no straight line to success. The fact that you’re learning is a good thing and something that you should praise yourself for. Try not to feel disheartened, you’re doing great!