Letting Go of the Struggle in Coursework

Guest post by Aaron Ander

Every student at some point feels the grind of their course work and study. Inevitably, there is a sense that more time is needed, deadlines are overwhelming, and life just cannot afford more mental juice to trudge on.

But what if there is a way to let go of the struggle, and like the Zen metaphor, stop pushing against the current of the water – how do we let go downstream?

Being the Reed

Researching, planning, and preparing is a daily effort that builds our knowledge of the subject matter, but what really helps in the end is starting early, and being consistent. All the effort to research topics early and think about what is interesting about the subject will help to create the momentum we need.

Momentum builds when we are keen about what we are studying and excited to delve into the topics we choose to focus on. This comes from being engaged in the course material. The more passionate and engaged we are about the subject, the easier it will be to pour ourselves into the work.

Our commitment to success and excellence is the engagement we feel with the course material. No matter how we look at it, a painstaking subject that is of no interest will feel like a struggle.

Riding the Wave

When a surfer sets out to sea, their mind captures the landscape of the water, assesses the sizes of the waves, and decides their strategy, based on conditions. There is some effort paddling out, until they reach that spot, far out, where they can plan their first ride in. Then the moment arrives, a wave is building, and they paddle hard to get the speed necessary to drop in. Once they catch that wave, it is the momentum of the wave itself that carries them to shore.

Like a surfer, as students we assess the semester, wade through course syllabuses, gather information about assignments, readings, quizzes, and begin to size up the course load. It can take a few weeks to get a handle on what our instructors want, and how difficult the subject matter is. In the meantime, some small assignments are already due!

At some point the reality hits – we’re going to have to catch a few big waves, and if we are keeping our eyes open, we will see them forming early on, so we can get the momentum we need to ride those waves in.

In the Zone

Just as the surfer drops into the wave, there is a building moment where the course material starts to crest. It is perhaps that most overwhelming moment in our semester, as everything seems to be due all at once. At that crucial moment, what we need more than determination is inspiration and passion. Our commitment is strengthened when we believe in what our work represents.

Once we catch the significance of what it is that we are studying, we enter “the zone”. Then there is excitement, interest, and curiosity. Then we can ride the wave all the way in to shore.

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