Well I’ve always hated being a quitter

…and this has resulted in me suffering through many a broken situation, relationship, work/study environment, miserable experience. I like to try my hand at many things and do jump at the chance of doing stuff that sounds/looks appealing. Sometimes the appealing-ness fades quickly, but out of some weird sense of duty I struggle on. When I was unwell, I felt anxious, depressed and sad very often. The things I was doing (work, study, relationship, hobbies) were coated in the black dust of such feelings. Anyone who’s ever gone through a bout of depression, anxiety etc. may totally feel me at this point. The doom is ever-present. Nothing feels fun.

In those situations I have discontinued things I could’ve kept going if I had been feeling better, this is true. What is in the past, is in the past and as much as I sometimes regret some of my rash decisions, I have ended up in a place in my life that doesn’t seem too bad. All those stops and starts were part of a, admittedly quite steep, learning curve of life. How can you know, if you do not try?

Which brings me to today. I am officially a quitter. It’s taken me 1,5 weeks from the fact to write this up because it’s hard and disappointing and everything else to stop something that you put so much energy and stress into. This being my Masters. I guess wasted time and energy feels so…wasted. And waste is exactly the reason why I quit. I do like philosophy. But my philosophy is practical ponderings on everyday situations, concepts I have some relation to, about phenomena going on in the crazy world that is today. Esoteric confusion in language in class rooms accessible to certain privileged people only (including myself, for I am privileged) is not my idea of the best possible use of philosophy. Sitting in the library, researching my thesis, however interesting the topic may have been, took away from time spent, in my opinion, better, by doing volunteering, spending time with loved ones, taking care of my health etc. It also made me a forgetful, absent-minded, unable to concentrate and relax kind of mess. I was not nice to my nearest and dearest, and that, let me tell you, fuckin destroys me. Nothing is worth being mean to those I love. For the meaning of life, according to Pihla, is to love and be loved. The meaning of life is not to sit miserably in the library, reading unnecessarily complex theory on topics that ultimately I could just experience instead.

Naturally, philosophy has given me a lot to think about, literally so. Made me aware, made me critical and analytic. But I had lost all interest in philosophy and was doing it because I felt I was forced into it. When you force yourself to something you don’t want to do you don’t do it as well. And so every day at university was an experience of failure as a student and as a rational being.

Because crucially, philosophy to me represent reason. As a person who has struggled with malnutrition -induced irrationality for years the idea of quitting philosophy linked with the idea of irrationality – simply I was not rational enough if I was to quit, and to be that, unable to exercise my reason adequately to be a good student, was just a step removed from succumbing to irrationality and illness again. I know, sounds crazy. But hey, I do have a history of that and some thoughts still linger…

This is also a question of identity and self-concept, self-worth even. I hated philosophy and felt it corresponded with almost none of my current interests. I was trying to force myself to be a person who would find academic philosophy meaningful, who would enjoy it. Sometimes I did enjoy it, but only when someone was kind enough to draw a link from theory to practice. Sure I don’t believe in fixed types (philosopher, social pedagogist, crazy person) as one’s only definer, but I felt more of many of my other roles (friend, volunteer, employee) than I felt a philosophy student. To feel like one I would’ve needed a different kind of teaching and learning experience I guess.

These days, I don’t want to do what I don’t want to do. I notice that often. My illness wasted many moments of my fairly precious life/times and I simply want to use my remaining howevermanyyears as well as I think I can. I am applying to a new Masters, in social pedagogy, this spring, and will continue working full-time in a job I have grown to like with people I love, until possible studies begin. Feels good now. To navigate further towards things that truly bring me joy and meaning. Was adrift for many years, smoother sailing now.

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