This week I accomplished one of the bigger items on my Shit To Get Done list. I wrote a college essay – 4000-ish words, footnoted and referenced and all that jazz – ahead of time, sans panic attacks, and reasonably well.
This doesn’t sound like a massive deal if you don’t know that I’ve been on various forms of medical leave from uni for several years, and that in that time I have neither been able to finish an assignment or sit an exam. I love learning, I love reading, and I love writing, but my anxiety disorder has taken those pleasures away from me, of late. I am as surprised as I am pleased that I seem to have regained at least some of that ability.
I don’t know my exam dates yet (I have to sit my final exams this May) and I am terrified already, but behind the fear there’s a core of feeling that I’d forgotten I ever had. The tiny centre of resolve that sits somewhere in your chest and says, yes, I know it’s awful, but you can see it through.
I won’t do spectacularly well, but I’ll see it through. I won’t be pleased with the results, but I’ll be pleased that I did it.
And then I’m going to stand under the Campanile and dance a bloody jig.
(I can’t speak to the veracity of the third bit of that post. However, there is another one that says if you climb to the top of the Campanile, you get a guaranteed 1.1 for the year, but the Provost is allowed try to shoot you out of it with a crossbow. The older the academic institution, the weirder the legends get.)
These days, the piece of jewellery I wear most is this pendant. It’s a copy of the page from Darwin’s notebook where he first doodled a tree of evolution, and added over it, ‘I think’.
I wear it because I find it increasingly important to remember that even the biggest of ideas started off as a scratch on the corner of a piece of paper.