Note: if you read me a lot, this post will probably be over-familiar and monotonous. I considered not releasing it at all, because I’m more tired of my own repetitiveness than you, TBH, but at this point, the things on my chest are becoming chao, and they need to clear off. Also, I planned on posting this like 3 weeks ago, and time is really passing, so I just want to get it over with.
Consider this something like a continuation of the blog post Reflections After My First Semester. It could have been frightfully long, but I had the foresight to plan little blog posts to complement this one, kind of like little prequels, so I can gloss over some things and so that this post may be more focused on the academic sides. So, in short:
For God-knows-what reason, I fell back into depression. (This is what Retrograde and the Nightmare is about.) But still, I wrote. Not nearly as much as I wanted to, but a bit. You can read more about that on She Still Wants to Live.
Part of my being generally upset and unsatisfied with life, the social aspects of feeling like I must keep up with everything and everyone, is captured as personally recollected and as observed about others in On Results.
One thing I don’t think I have mentioned in any of my prequel blog posts is death. In fact, throughout the academic year, it has seemed like there has been a series of deaths, by professors and students alike, across the five-college consortium in the city, which has seriously affected the general atmosphere of just about everything. To top it off, in 2017, as I tried to keep up with Ghanaian news, it seemed to me that we were experiencing some sort of suicide epidemic, and that was highly alarming. Unfortunately, the tragedies of death, and its tolls on all who are associated with the deceased in any way, seems to just be continuing into the summer. More and more thought, these days, goes into the decision to open my email or social media. There are so many effects of the death on the living that I don’t even know how to write it into the overall experience, other than mention the helplessness grief leaves behind.
So now, the less social stuff.
As some of the readers who keep up a lot may know, 2017 has been my “excellent” year, or at least it was intended to be. The problem is that my semester has felt so, so far from excellent. It became yet another point of contention between me and the academic system, the apparent impossibility of achieving excellence. I could see that there were so many assignments, readings, so much required of me, that I could not possibly give anything the attention I believed it demanded. Achieving excellence in one thing/academic class meant that I would not have the time or energy remaining to do some other task at all. So, if I wanted to, at the very least, get by – which appeared to be my only option – I had to put the bare minimum into things, then if I had time or energy, add more to something or the other. And this really, really hurt my heart. Yes, I know it’s apparently a common experience with many college students but I struggle too hard to see why it should be so at all. Here was someone dedicated to excellence, who was half-assing her whole life. I wanted to beat someone up but usually had nothing and no one to direct my anger and frustration towards. I remember walking back and forth between buildings, trying to get myself organized to work, on the verge of tears, thinking about how “I have to choose what to fail at.” (I literally cried these words to Tronomie on the phone.) So yeah. My semester was less-than-excellent, at the very least, in effort. Also, I can’t function when I haven’t been sleeping. Also, I became coffee-dependent. Like the rest of America. HashtagDrugAddictsNoBeWeedSmokersAlone.
I started to design my own fantasy educational structure for myself. For myself, not for a country, not for a college; for myself. I feel like when things start trying too hard to suit a mass, they become disfigured. So I designed this thing for me nkoaa. It involved intense focus on one thing at a time. Baako pɛ. One-on-one sessions with a mentor that would be far more knowledgeable than me in whatever s/he was teaching me. A single “class” more like an apprenticeship session, maybe for a few hours a day, three to five days a week, no deadlines, no homework, just a love for learning and desire to acquire on my part, and a dedication to the impartation of knowledge and the cultivation of excellence on the instructor’s part. But some things are too good to be true, or to work for you, and the world is a rather cruel place, not like I didn’t know already. So, although I will keep wanting this thing so badly, I will probably resign myself for writing it into a fictional something eventually.
In other news, I have decided that the liberal arts is a scam, regardless of what I wrote in LOL so this liberal arts distin actually works, eh? And I’m not even talking about how liberal arts schools are still secretly and openly filled with people looking to continue into law/medicine/other STEM fields, and find the liberal artsiness of their general education requirements the most tiring part of school. I’m talking about how even liberal arts are not ideal for people who do not like (traditional) school or formal education. Because it’s still formal education, and people like me will continue to be unable to put our hearts in it.
I realized, somewhere between the end of first semester and the middle of second semester, that there was absolutely nothing I cared about enough to want to major in it. It was a huge struggle, to come to terms with realizing that although I was now here in a liberal arts school, where the whole world was now telling me that I could finally “follow my passion” and major in something I was actually “interested” in and all that jazz, that still, nothing appealed to me.
I decided not to be an English major for one thing because the English classes and even professors, were just too white and too academic for me, where academic equates to deep-to-the-point-of-irrelevant, and incoherent. It sounds like I’m being super harsh, but I’m trying to be honest about how I have felt.
Up until now, the only academic class I think I have really enjoyed has been my African History to 1800 class – and not just because of the actual subject matter of the course, but all the side-things I’ve discovered that would make great stories once remixed. (See “On Results” for extended thoughts on learning stuff you were not necessarily supposed to learn.) And the English class I took last semester just felt like a truckload of BS. It was on Victorian/Romantic literature and some of the poets and novelists were great, but the class and professor seemed to leech the soul out of them for me. I had intended to write about my experience in that class sometime in December, but the way it’s June and I’m still sitting on all my words, I doubt it will happen before 2020. Or ever.
So, my second semester, I took really interesting classes. I’m assuming that has been the most interesting combination of classes I will take for the rest of my college career: Astronomy, Drawing, Media Studies and James Baldwin. Going to class, any class, made me tired, and so did all homework, most of which I didn’t do well anyway.
Astronomy was cool in the beginning: foundations, history, mythology and the like. Although the reading and resource materials were excessive and overwhelming nearly from the beginning, it was intriguing because history and stories are the things I like. And then the physics started becoming more and more prominent in the course and I swear it would take me about two weeks to understand one theory. I spent far too much time in my professor’s office outside of class hours, monopolizing his time and attention, blasting him and making him explain one thing he’d spent ten minutes on in class to me three times over, for like twenty minutes each. He told me he liked that I was dedicated, at least, to figuring things out and spending so much time on them. But for one thing, I suspect he was incredibly tired of me and my frustrated, impatient, rude, slowness; and for another, I wasn’t dedicated to jack. I just wanted to barb the thing and go, but I wasn’t barbing, so I couldn’t go, because if I went without barbing, I wouldn’t be able to rest or sleep, because that’s apparently the way my cursed brain is programmed.
My Media Studies class was so full of dense, academic readings which I found neither comprehensible nor necessary, most of which I stopped even trying to go through in the first place. My James Baldwin class was full of readings (that is, even outside the original texts by Baldwin and associated writers like Richard Wright and Ta-Nehisi Coates) that I didn’t understand, and people talking about personal or sociopolitical issues about being black or queer in America that really just went over my head, or felt too academic or abstract, or felt impossible for me to connect to the designated material. Both of these classes reminded me how much I hate academia, and would rather be the artist making stuff and making news in the world than be the person teaching or formally discussing within the confines of lecture halls and academic publications, the things that people in the actual world are doing. More and more, it has felt to me like the academics are removed from the world and are looking at it from behind a two-way mirror, while on the other side, artists and other human beings carry on, unbothered about being treated like observations in an unethical social-science experiment.
So, this is how I feel about just about every field I can study in school, just because I’m studying it in school, and this is why I can’t care about anything enough to want to major in it and why I think liberal arts is a scam. It’s just taking culture and stripping it similarly of tangible relevance, making it fit the format of traditionally academic stuff. Just because we’ve mentioned Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in the class, doesn’t make the class seem relevant to what I perceive to be the real world. So if anyone wants to give me money so I can drop out, that would be appreciated.
On the whole, I became a pretty nasty person this past semester. Having conversations with me, I think, became a pain for other people, because I was just being depressive all the time and it can be super draining to be around a person like that for extended periods of time. I broke several people’s hearts too, including Ekko’s and Tronomie’s, with my intense sadness. I became even more of a room hermit than I already was, always hiding, sleeping or crying in my room and I suspect it annoyed my roommate more than a bit that it felt like I’d annexed the room, but I fear I didn’t have anywhere else to go.
I don’t have much hope for next semester. I’m tired of having hope. Either I resign myself to permanent misery within school, or I find a way to leave. I don’t expect to enjoy my Africana Studies major, to be honest – and I’m taking three more AF-related courses next sem, but I lowkey don’t care about any of them… yet. I might find that I enjoy some of them more than I thought I would once I start taking them, but that’s such a hopeful thought, you know. I also highkey am sick of being ignorant, so hopefully, I learn something through my chosen track. I feel like I’ve learnt some pretty helpful things already, even if they were small things I took from big classes.
I realized I never explained exactly why I decided to do an Africana Studies major as opposed to an English major: I figured that an AF course would actually be more helpful to my literary career on the whole, based on the kind of stuff I want to be writing. A lot of it is fantastical, and if the rest of my courses are any bit as helpful as my African History course and even my James Baldwin course, to some extent, have been with unlocking my imagination, giving me new things to think about, and considering and reconsidering African and Black non-African identities, then I’m going to have a lot of material to work with; way more than I’d have had if I’d just followed a straight-up English path. So maybe I’ll just focus on a literature discipline within the AF major. It makes more sense to me.
Highlight, though? Even though I already touched on this in The Initial Illusion of Being in the Pictures, I’m incredibly grateful for the African community in this college consortium. The Ghanaians outnumber every other African nationality, I think, which is incredibly strange for me because for once, we’ve outnumbered the Nigerians. The African women, in particular, I have found, have formed a very reliable support system and I love it and I love them.
Other memorable things that have happened: