I started this blog thinking I could rant my way into an explanation as to why I was being distracted from my chosen subject of Marine Biology. There was a feeling I had that I was addicted to procrastination.
Or at least, addicted to things that weren’t as important. Recently I came to a realisation that that might not be why at all. In truth, I haven’t turned from the subject but instead I no longer like the educational setting that I once loved as a child. The strong tie of my subject to the structure of university means it has been pulled from me, not pushed away.
At first there was just a dissonance with coordination and not fully recognising symbols: learning b from d, p from q, y from g, a from e; being asked to retrieve things from drawers and top left becomes bottom right. This was only classed as having a little reading difficulty and the latter dismissed as not listening to instruction. My mind was overcomplicating everything. Everything!
Each new challenge brought similar issues. Learning words followed suit and when spoken, would come out as something utterly off the mark. I could think of endless combinations looking at a single word and because I didn’t know very many I could say pretty much anything- made, wade, wode, mada, mabe, mode, mobe and on and on… The only thing that ended up saving me was learning context. Reading extensively, acquiring a wide range of vocabulary and looking two or three times to be able to use this work around. That brought about another problem however, which plagues me to this day- taking an extraordinarily long time to do anything.
The only people to gain from it were fellow classmates as it could be very amusing for them. An oven (even a toy one) was a “cooking stove” and all cars and buses were “motor vehicles”.
Regardless of how far along in my education I got and with people complaining to me, “why do you have to do everything the hard way?” I was never tested to assess the problem. Surely someone saw the signs? Was it avoided from a desire not to give me an excuse to be lazy or to give up easy? Was it not considered because of a lack of funding in the small school I attended? Was it dismissed because I started to create my own work arounds and thereby had above average grades?
Looking back it was evident even into high school. When we started to do proper exams instead of class tests, only those that were of a fairly basic level were ever actually finished as they were less taxing on my brain power. Any exam of the upper levels had to be given copious amounts of time so as to be completed, which I couldn’t be given as I had never been certified as having a problem. They allowed me to be placed in the higher level classrooms with other brainbox kids because in class I had all the time in the world, and so had no problem keeping up. A few teachers would ask why I left questions blank, particularly towards the end and I would have to say to them, ‘I realised I was running out of time so decided to do the questions I knew off the top of my head’. Still no testing was done. Nada. Neinte. Even after warning teachers that their exams would come back to them 75% complete at best. Somehow I managed damn good grades by anyone’s standards, although I suspect it had something to do with the quality of classwork.
And so, on to university I went. The chemistry lecturer sorts his projector, puts up his presentation, hands out notes and stands to begin talking. A few flicks through the sheets of paper he has given us and it dawns on me that they are a copy of the presentation, but there’s a catch- they are incomplete. ‘Fill in the blanks.’
Fill in the blanks? And here what he’s saying at the same time? Never mind taking in the information. So what if he relates what he’s saying to the information on the slide? There are letters and words to be dealt with! By the time I have filled in half of what’s missing of a page, he moves on to the next one. And what was it he said aloud? Slightly ashamed at just having put up with the difficulty for so long (only ever mildly hinting that I am lacking in something most folks seem to understand with ease) I do not ask him to slow down. After all, the rest of the class are managing fine. All of a sudden I can no longer keep up as I used to and it fractures my world and sense of self just a little.
After that class I rush to the canteen and the free campus wifi hotspot. Sitting at the laptop, waiting for the lecture material to be posted, with the idea that I can fill in the things I didn’t catch, or perhaps download the next lecture and read it/fill it in via textbooks so I might be more prepared in class. I’m sitting there hoping I can create a new work around and be able to actually listen to my lecturer. They arrive in my inbox as he promised the whole class. I browse quickly and just about start weeping. These are not just incomplete (as the textbook idea still stands) but there is a message from him saying he will send these to us after, and only after, each lecture. The possibility that I might actually have the subject explained verbally was just shot up royally. Could I ask him to make an exception for me? No. Stubborn pride won’t let me give this in. I’m never one to ask for help. Hell, I don’t even like boasting much and that’s for my good qualities.
Perhaps I never actually lost interest in my chosen subject because of other focuses at all. At the time it felt like it. Life was getting tough financially, my health was declining, my world was caught up by the immediate effect politics and the news seemed to be having on my life. These new fights made me turn to old battles I’d had as an atheist and so I became re-intrigued by it. It was not, as I suggested in my first blog post, that my atheism threatened to tare things up. It was a completely different fundamental behaviour of mine. The one about me being backward.