Feeling like a Failure

Life is full of tough decisions, and nothing makes them easy. But the worst ones are really your personal koans, and tormenting ambivalence is just the sense of satori rising. Try, trust, try, and trust again, and eventually you’ll feel your mind change its focus to a new level of understanding.

This post has been in the pipeline for as long as the decision has been bounced around. I think the only reason why I never had a chance to actually make it go live was that it would make me look like a total failure.

Using the word failure sounds like I’m too hard on myself and that’s because I am. Those who know me for years or have engaged in any sort of conversation with me will know that I’m generally someone who doesn’t give up that easily.

Since I started my tertiary education, I said I would go full circle. By saying a full circle, I’m referring to getting my Ph.D. in whatever topic I’ll be interested in then. Having completed my Degree and taking a year-long yet well-deserved study break, going back to the books made sense. However, with already two jobs, the only option for me was to study through the University of South Africa (UNISA); a leading distance learning institution. I knew this was the direction to take since I could do everything through the Internet and bypass attending classes.

I was excited. No wait thrilled that I managed to pay my registration fee (which was a headache) in September 2016. Months went by and I had still not received any sort of feedback about my application of the Honours Programme. Then I boldly took the day off in February of this year, went to the UNISA offices and asked why they were taking so long to come back with a response. To cut the long and boring detailed process short, I got accepted and was officially a Communications Honour student, registering for two of five subjects ranging over a three year period.

I printed all the study material, bought brand new stationery and relived my student life days with unpacking old notes and dusty textbooks. I downloaded the course notes and realised that it was purely assignments. In-depth research assignments. As I read further into both course materials, I got hit with dues dates. Due dates that were waiting, 3 days apart from one another. At first, I was like, “Okay. You can do this” thinking that it would be the same amount of work I had done for my degree. But as time went by, the weeks got fewer and my professional workload got heavier, I had no option but to work for two weeks simultaneously on both assignments; going to bed at 1 am only to wake up again at 5:30 am.

Saying it’s HARD is an understatement. I cried, pulled my hair out, smelled like shit and began shielding myself every night for 14 days. I told myself that once those two assignments are uploaded onto the server, I’ll give myself a one week break and begin working on the next ones now that I got my study groove back. The weeks were starting to catch up, haunting me every time I wrote in my diary that I needed to start the next set of work but I became despondent and a little depressed just thinking about it.

During the first week of June, I finally uttered the words to Courtney that “I’m dropping out”. He stared at me blankly and asked me to repeat what I said. “I’m dropping out”, in a much clearer voice. “Why?”, he asked. “I really can’t do this anymore” was my response.

It was my lowest point. I knew I had failed as a person, as Stephanie, at life. I never left anything without completing what I started. I’ve always been that person reprimanding others when I think that haven’t given it their all in something yet here I was, the biggest failure of them all with a huge drop out sign figuratively tattooed on my forehead. How pathetic of me! How many others would’ve killed to be in my shoes? To be able to further their education? Let alone to get an education.

What hurt me the most was that I’m giving up without an ounce of a fight. Every night when I walk through the door after a full day, I’m beyond exhausted to even bother reading or pick up a journal article; summarising it or getting to grips with the literature. I tried and only ever get to page 4 if I’m lucky.

To give you some background, every morning I wake up at 5:30 am, leaving home at 6 am. Get to work after 8 am and leave the office at 16:30 pm to only arrive at home from 18:30 pm (Yes, that’s four hours in total getting to and from work, every day). I get to eat supper, shower and sit down to do my part-time work; depending on what needs to be done. Saturdays it’s the same routine.

Except I now go to my part-time job until 14:00 pm, wait until Courtney gets off from work either at 17:00 or 19:00 pm because I’m unable to get home on a weekend. Sundays are my only leisure time I get to myself and let’s be honest, it generally occupied as my sleep day in.

My thought process: Maybe I was just selfish or not putting in the extra time to do what I wanted to do in the first place. Maybe I needed to focus more or scrap my blog entirely and stick to doing work 24/7. Maybe, maybe, maybe are the words that keep echoing in my mind of things I should be doing differently. Whether I drop out now, the balance of my fees will not disappear. It still needs to be paid regardless of what action I’m about to take.

I have three weeks left until my next two assignments need to be handed in and they getting tougher whenever I reread the instructions. I can’t keep my focus. I can’t keep the exhaustion from spilling over my body. I can’t push myself who no longer wants to be pushed. I’m now in the stage of just getting it done but what’s the point? I’m wasting energy on something I no longer feel the need in doing yet I tell myself to finish it and come back again when I’m in the right mindset to study.

For now, I’m doing the best that I can with the little time I got left. For now, I’m pushing myself to whatever energy I have to sit up till the early hours of the morning; taking in probably my seventh coffee for the day. For now, I’m doing the best of my ability.

Until the next time.

Stephanie Marthinus Blog