Daydreaming My Life Away And Looking Onward To Freedom

6

For the past year and a half I’ve spent an awful amount of time doodling in my notebooks. It always starts the same way. I tell myself at the beginning of every semester that I’ll study harder; I won’t let the math lose meaning behind foreign symbols. Then a fourth of the way through each semester I look up and it’s all a bunch of Greek letters. Whenever I reached that point in an upper level math class, I tilted my head down to start doodling. Upper level math classes revolve around theorems and their proofs. I usually zoned out for the entire explanation of a theorem. Then while the professor started writing down steps for the proof I would copy them into my notebook by listening to his/her voice. I reached this point in every upper level math class without fail.

I’m not here to say I’m depressed and confused. Contrary to that, it may be even more brutal that I accept my fate with a  relatively calm demeanor for the most part. In two classes I have taken, the material was simply beyond my ability to comprehend. I didn’t have any room to slack off because I was on the verge of failing in both cases. I remember looking up from my desk one day and realizing about a third of my class had just dropped a course required for the major. I’m just glad I passed two extremely difficult courses. On the other hand, I definitely didn’t try my hardest in all the other upper level math courses. It seemed to follow the same pattern. I would get a decent grade on the first exam that accurately reflected my capabilities. Then everything went downhill from there.

There came a point in each of those “downhill” classes where I obviously viewed the amount of work to maintain a B average as unsustainable. I knew very damn well that if I worked my tail off, the best I could hope for is a B. Then after the first exam I was able to reflect on the fact that my life became consumed by one class for a B. I guess subconsciously the opportunity cost was too high since I ditched socializing, gaming, and any creative endeavors for about a month; just to get that first B. A week or two after the first exam I usually stopped caring. I think it’s a combination of lack of positive reinforcement and viewing the work required for those classes as slave labor. The slightest mistakes in a proof were constantly scrutinized. Many times some novel trick was required to solve the problem and I didn’t stoop low enough (like several individuals in my class did) to find those clever methods online.

I’ve been faced with the choice between “slave labor” for grades or mediocrity accompanied by freedom before. The truth is that I have always chosen freedom. I’m not afraid to work hard, but I’ve always refused to sacrifice freedom that I believe is crucial to my sanity. if I ever feel like the curve for reward is too steep or I am barely being emotionally rewarded for my efforts, that effect only gets exacerbated. When I think about it deeper, it’s kind of like a self-defense mechanism. I see work for this class sucking me into depression with minimal reward and I gravitate towards activities that provide positive reinforcement. Namely allowing me to make my own rules, feel a sense of accomplishment, and be productive while doing so. Therefore I spent a lot of time daydreaming about things I would rather be doing or doodling in the margins of my notes, while taking upper level math classes.

One fear of mine is that the rest of my life will be filled with daydreams. What if the adult world is even more ensnaring? What if I’m not entitled to two hours of free time every day? (That’s a lot of time isn’t it). I’ve only experienced a tiny part of adult responsibility. So far I can live with the consequences of maintaining freedom, but I really don’t know if freedom in this manner is something I can keep feeling “entitled” to when plenty of people dig ditches straight down into the ground for 10 hours a day.

When I mentioned earlier that I’m not hesitant to work hard, I wasn’t kidding. In the rare moment when my creative interests and work that is required of me unite, magical things happen. Last weekend I spent seven hours writing a short story when I’m more than capable of writing a shorter one in two. if I ever got full creative freedom while employed, I could make my employers very happy. It’s all part of a greater desire to express my own creative desires in the way I see best fit, I guess. Things are so much more mundane when the only reason I’m doing something is for a grade or because some authority told me to do it. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled with having the luxury of questioning orders. From my perspective, I need a reason to do what I’m doing. I need to be happy and justify my productivity in the process.

Now that I’m graduating, this issue concerns me more than ever. I don’t know if I can actually look onward to freedom. It would be overly optimistic of me to assume that I can find a way to avoid “slave labor” in the working world either. Sometimes I really wish I could change myself. I’ve cried about it countless time to be honest. There are times when I wished I could sacrifice free time or freedom for long-term gains. At the same time I realize that it’s sort of a gift to evaluate every action holistically without automatically taking orders. Nevertheless I understand part of this is born out of stubbornness/childishness and eventually some of this attitude will have to give in order for me to make a decent living in the working world.

Or maybe I could live out in the jungle where there are no rules and regulations. Do jungles have wifi? What about outlets for my laptop? No? Ok I guess I’ll join your society then.

*Just in case I need to mention this, I got really good grades besides the upper level math courses. I’m an economics double and I enjoy that much more, which resulted in far superior grades.


I took the featured image right after one of my math exams. Looking around at nature or the sky helps me relieve some of the anxiety associated with being doomed to a fate not of my own choosing.

6 comments on “Daydreaming My Life Away And Looking Onward To Freedom

  1. talyabeyers says:

    I feel exactly the same way about physics and chemistry right now. Also accounting. And maybe maths. All subjects I need to struggle through until the end of the year, and then I don’t have to do them ever again. I sat up in one of my accounting classes the other day and realised that I had no real reason for being in the class and that I was falling hopelessly behind.
    I still have a few years of education to go, but the fact that I find it so difficult to work hard at something I genuinely don’t want to do, scares me. I could write all day, every day if someone paid me to do it, but unfortunately it’ll take me a while to get there, if I get there at all.
    Thank you for putting my feelings into words, and I hope that freedom is more exciting to you than an upper level maths class 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • royyman32 says:

      Really helped to see someone else agreeing with me and experiencing a similar problem. I guess your realization about your accounting class highlights the fact that sometimes get themselves into situations without expecting to feel trapped. I used to enjoy math, until it became a chore and the end courses were completely different from what I encountered in the beginning. I don’t expect everything to be super enjoyable, but I don’t want it to suck the life out of me either. Glad we both value freedom 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. iggy23 says:

    That’s what I felt when I was studying math and science in junior college (high school equivalent). If you don’t know, Singapore’s math and science is one of the best in the world and to top that off, my school’s math was within the top three in difficulty in my country. So you can imagine how I, being shitty at math my whole life, had to knuckle down and work hard to get my results right. I had to take this route in order to get into communications in university so I had to grind during my two years because I didn’t want to give up on my dream of becoming a journalist. I totally understand how you feel. The only difference is maybe math is important in your course while for me, it doesn’t matter.

    It’s not wrong to favour freedom because we all want that. But what separates the best from the rest is the determination to succeed. I enjoyed myself in school but when it came to the crunch time, I really studied as if my life depended on it (which wasn’t really far from the truth). I’m sure you’ll make it because you have an idea of what you should do so with that little bit of determination, things will definitely work out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • royyman32 says:

      Yeah that’s dedication right there to power through those courses to get into the communications program. I guess that only further reinforces the fact that action with greater purpose leads to greater motivation and better results. I totally agree that determination to succeed is the differentiating factor between different levels of achievement. I think things will work out (for both you and me). In my case I just need to make sure I pursue things that I’m passionate about, Thanks for your thoughts, that gave me some good stuff to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can assure you that yes, the rest of your life will be filled with daydreams, and that’s awesome, because some of them become goals you can achieve : ) I used to suck at Math. Now I work in finance. Thanks a lot Karma!

    Liked by 1 person

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