Ritalin is not cheating

I want to talk about the years of my childhood being told I just wasn’t trying hard enough. That I would be fine if I didn’t talk so much. That I just didn’t have a work ethic. That if I just focused a bit more, I would be able to get good marks like the other kids in the class.

I want to talk about the years of highschool, where being semi-adults more capable of engaging with reason didn’t even help the stigma. Where the accusations actually got a bit more serious, because the stakes were higher. Of refusing to take it because I was scared of being called a cheater. Of telling my doctor I didn’t care, I wouldn’t take it. Of being told I procrastinate because I am lazy.

I want to talk about university, where the stakes got raised again. Where people would sulk under their breaths about how “we’d all be doing well if we were doing that”. I want to talk about people buying it without a prescription and making it seem like even less like a legitimate disorder and more like a luxury.

I want to talk about Ritalin.

I could write a thesis about how it affects people in terms of anxiety, or social interaction, or many of the other reasons why it is prescribed, but today I’m going to focus on its academic value, and the idea that it counts as “cheating” to take it.

Far too often, people take examples of children who were able to fight their way through the educational system, reduce the use of Ritalin, or other drugs of the sort, to redundant status and call it a way to suppress a child’s individuality.

“See! She didn’t take Ritalin and she made it through. Ritalin is just an easy way out!”

Denying a child medical attention because of speculation doesn’t necessarily “teach them to cope”, but sometimes it only furthers their inability to do so thereafter.

While I may have made it through the system without it, up until university, where I stopped feeling ashamed and allowed doctors to prescribe it to me, those formative years of being called the class clown and talking more than listening are part of the reason I still can’t do my times tables and why there rarely goes a paragraph I write without a spelling error popping up. Yes, I was able to get through it and wouldn’t say I’m particularly stunted by it, but most people don’t make it through and most people are stunted by it. I suppose it could be likened to how some people are able to sleep perfectly without sleeping pills – and that’s fantastic for them – but it doesn’t help the people who can’t sleep. Just because people have gone without taking medication for attention deficit and the likes, doesn’t mean that ignoring a clear problem is the best way of dealing with it.

I want to ask why people call it “cheating” to take Ritalin. Is it cheating to wear glasses? Are people who have genetically blurry vision told that if they just tried a little harder, they’d be able to see better?

What most people who don’t take Ritalin don’t understand about Ritalin is usually everything. But more specifically, they don’t understand that Ritalin doesn’t have some magic level of “smart” that it takes you to. Let’s make it really simple, and say that the average brain is able to to let you concentrate on level 4. Then, there are people who can only concentrate on level 2. Please note that these examples are for sake of explanation and not to be quoted as actual statistics. Ritalin will take both of those people to level 5. Does that make sense? It doesn’t have a set amount of “help” in each tablet – those who need it benefit more from it. For instance, someone who does not suffer from depression will not become excessively happy after taking an anti-depressant, while someone suffering from depression will be regulated.

Maybe it’s just too early to understand. There was a time – with a few ignorant souls still preaching it – when people were told they just needed to cheer up and smile more, as if that even skims the surface of the complexity of depression. Maybe, and hopefully, there will come a time where people will refer back to the time when people accused those suffering from attention deficit disorders of just being lazy or stupid, and they’ll think “thank goodness we came to our senses”.

I realise I’m being very unscientific about the matter and I’m doing so for two reasons. One, because I haven’t studied the topic to the extent that I could even begin to offer a medically sound discussion. Two, because we should be able to understand the topic without needing to make it a matter of statistics. It’s a social issue as much as it is a scientific one. We need to be able to discuss and understand these issues without bombarding people with figures.

Listen, I’m also not claiming that Ritalin is the only possible way to treat or deal with attention deficit. I’m sure that there are, and will be many other ways to do so as we learn more about the disorders. The only way that’s ever going to happen, though, is when people start acknowledging it for the disorder that it is, and not reducing it to an excuse for kids who don’t want to do their homework. Usually, and ironically, people aren’t concerned about these negative effects as much as they’re concerned about the positive ones. Either way, we need to acknowledge that it’s currently one of the only options for people suffering from attention deficit and to simply leave them to fend for themselves is unnecessary and archaic.

So, unless you’ve done specific research before bashing it, I don’t want to hear your misinformed opinions of how unfair it is that I am now able to absorb information that you might be lucky enough to do naturally. And please – please – don’t trivialise the disorder to the point where you are taking it without a prescription. That’s one of the many places the problem starts.

What Are The Odds?

I can quite confidently say I’m not much of a football fan. Though, in general, I’m not much of a sports fan other than playing in the Mighty U16 D Team for Netball way back when (*holds for applause*).

I’d never for a second try to claim that the sport isn’t one of great skill and professionalism, or that I don’t respect and appreciate that. I’d just say, quite simply, that it bores me. It’s mostly just people kicking the ball around in the middle and dramatically throwing themselves to the ground occasionally. In fact, I am so disengaged with it that my brother was once watching a game – I think it was a white team versus a red team, if you would like me to be more specific – and I watched for most of the game thinking he was playing a game of Fifa, as opposed to just watching it on TV.

So, recently, I’ve seen a lot of hype around a team called Leicester City on social media. From what I’ve gathered from the surface level, they have a cool fox as their logo, nobody really expected them to do well and there was some guy on the team (whom I embarrassingly referred to as “that guy Jimmy” too many times to ever be taken seriously again whilst making the reference) who chats shit, gets banged, and throws parties, or something like that.

For me, there is a natural progression that happens once social media starts buzzing like this:

  1. Find out how to pronounce “Leicester”. It’s not, as you might have thought, pronounced “Lee-kes-ter” – I realise this might come as a shock, but trust me when I say that people will bully you if you say this in public. Sort of like that time I told everyone how excited I was that “Dead Maw Five” was coming to South Africa.
  2. Once you know how to pronounce the name, ask someone what’s going on and why everyone’s talking about it.
  3. Ask your friends for as many basic facts as possible, so that you don’t impress everyone with some fact about Vardy’s strike rate only to get caught out when you go drink a glass of water when someone in the room aggressively shouts: “Go, Drinkwater!”
  4. Know enough that you can start pretending you knew what was happening all along, as was successfully manoeuvred when I manically learnt every Alt-J song before Rocking the Daisies 2013.

So for those of you reading this saying “How is Meg a real person? What a total jabronie. Everyone knows who Leicester is”, but thinking “Haaaaalp, what is she even saying?”, this is what’s happening. There’s a football club from Leicestershire in England and they weren’t very good at football (despite having a fox as their logo… This is like Hufflepuff and the Badger all over again…) They were basically the Kingsmead College of football teams, so they didn’t have much money. Their uniforms are blue (on reading this aloud to my brother, he interrupted me saying “they’re called a kit or a strip, not a uniform, Meg”). Their logo is a fox (did I mention that already? Whoops. But like, did you hear me? A FOX!) The odds for them to win the Premier League were 5000-1. And they won.

Yes, that’s right, 5000-1. Let me put that in perspective by giving a few other odds:

  1. Kim Kardashian becoming president of the US: 2000-1

I’m not quite sure what on earth these bookies use to gauge these odds, but Kim Kardashian was more likely to become president of the United States of America than this team was to win.

  1. Elvis Presley is actually still alive: 2000-1

Despite Elvis dying in 1977, the odds of people finding him – alive – in 2016 were still better than Leicester winning. (I’m not making these facts up, I found them on a BBC website)

  1. (My favourite) Finding the Loch Ness monster: 500-1

The Loch Ness monster is a mythical sea creature that many have claimed to have seen in the Loch Ness Lake in Scotland. Yes, that’s right, a full team of football players were less likely to win a football competition than we are to see a creature that is only rumoured to exist.

Yeah, it’s actually pretty impressive now that you give it some context. I’m obviously impressed that the team was able to beat those odds, but what impresses me the most is that anyone can be motivated to play their best game when people are so positive they’re going to lose. That’s some serious determination there (*cue the music: Phil Collins’ “Take A Look At Me Now”*). Apparently, there was a guy who got quite drunk and put a bet of £75 on Leicester – I enjoy this story particularly because I’m definitely the kind of person who would get drunk and accidentally spend all my money on a 5000-1 team, but definitely not the kind who would actually come right. And more than that, I’m impressed with all those lucky, drunk chancers thinking “Meh, what’s there to lose” when they bet a couple of quid on Leicester winning. My new tactic for income: place bets on ridiculous odds (this seems like a flawless plan… See you when I’m rich and famous!)

Social Awkwardness

When telling people that I suffer from social awkwardness, I’m met with the response: “But you’re so loud? And you tell really self-deprecating stories? And you document your entire life on social media? You’re not awkward”.

To start, yes, I do document my entire life on social media. But this doesn’t mean I don’t experience social panic before I do so – you don’t know me, you don’t know my struggle, you don’t know how many times I’ve run around in hysterical circles before replying as if I don’t care.

Then there’s how I behave in the real world. People seem to think that being confident, or just having no social filter, or just being loud, means that you don’t experience awkwardness. I get just as stressed as quiet people do when there’s a silence, if not more, because I take on the responsibility of fixing it (which frequently ends in a more awkward situation than we started with). The primary difference is that while other people might just swipe the screen of their phone pretending to be sending a message, I manically try to fill the silence by loudly proclaiming my unfiltered thoughts, instead of simply becoming one with the awkwardness.

Cast your mind back to around 2012, when a top private school made grade 8 boys hump a bus seat as part of their initiation (never get me started on boys’ school initiation if you have to be somewhere in a hurry). Apparently, humiliation builds comradery, or so I’ve been told. Moving on. As per the usual pattern of causing middle-upper-class outrage, this incident made SUV-driving, skinny-flat-white-drinking mothers everywhere gasp at the horror, with “BUS RAPE” making the headlines of the papers.

I was sitting with a group of mothers one day while they discussed the issue, which is where the unnecessarily self-induced social anxiety comes in. They were saying things like: “They’re just at such a tender age in grade 8, they hardly know what their bodies are for”. See, listening to privileged adults share their views always makes me anxious, because they usually ask my opinion of their racially-nuanced, obnoxious ones and I end up insulting a bunch of people I don’t even know. Calling people out on their bullshit is something I encourage, don’t get me wrong, but there are also times where it’s best to pick your battles. In this case, it probably would’ve been better to just keep being anxious in the situation, hope nobody asked me what I thought, and let them convince themselves that their 14-year-old boys didn’t know what their penises were for. But nay, I got so overwhelmed that I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, which was: “Oh please! They’ve been wanking since they were 12 anyway, AM I RIGHT?” As it were, I was not right.

The trouble with social awkwardness is that it extends into the ability, or lack thereof, to say “no” to people – because you fear disappointing people. Ah, the sacred beauty of the word “no”. Not being able to say no is the reason a bunch of people still email me about their products that I don’t want, because I was too scared to ignore them when they approached me at the shops. It’s also the reason I am a Jehovah’s Witness (haha just kidding, but I’m truly terrified for the day I’m approached by one, because there’s not a chance I’ll have the strength to reject them).

I am, however, a part of the UCT Anti-Abortion society. Let me explain this, please. It was a bloody hot morning in Cape Town in first year. I was shamefully hungover, and went to campus regardless – it was during O Week, where I was naively convinced I would attend every lecture, hungover or not. I didn’t really know where I was, or where I was going, or where I was supposed to be, and I’d just passed the phase of “hey I’m not that hungover” to “jokes, I was just still drunk when I woke up”.

I was ploughing my way down University Avenue, avoiding eye contact with the different stalls set up – the joys of Society Week. Society Week was a huge struggle for me and not just in first year. Every time, I’d walk away, defeated, with a free pen and a year’s subscription to the Kung Fu Society. I had nearly made it to Jammie Stairs, having even avoided the debaters (I ran past them – those people sure know how to convince you to do stuff, and the free slush puppies don’t help) when someone jumped in front of me with toy babies hanging from strings, painted with splashes of red. Important side-note: I’ve told this story a few times before, and I always forget to mention the “toy” part of the “toy baby” description, so I usually lose people to cries of disgust and have to quickly inform them I meant the plastic, non-human kind of baby. Anyway, there I was, a bit of residue mascara still sitting under my eyes, with a very vocal custodian of Pro-Life values waving these babies in my face exclaiming: “IS THIS OKAY? DO YOU CONDONE BABY MURDER?”

It was very stressful, I’ll tell you that. Regardless of my hangover, I was still able to formulate my views in my head. I’m neither for nor against abortion – I am pro choice. It’s not my decision to impose on other people. I tried to express this, explaining why I didn’t want to be a part of the society. But he kept persisting, saying that I could just attend the debates and see what I thought. Always keen to hear the different sides to an argument, I agreed that attending the debates was something I was willing to do, but that I didn’t want to be in the society. So I gave him my email address and went home, before I adopted a child while I was at it. They then took my email address (which I specifically gave separately and not on the sign up sheet), and signed me up themselves. It’s with great grievance that I inform you that despite my calls, messages and pleas to remove me from their mailing list, I am still a member of the UCT Anti-Abortion society and get very emotive emails, regularly, that use the words “murder” and “inhumane” as often as “and” and “or”.

The sweaty palms and nervous giggles might start small, but they gradually build to the point where I’m sitting in a bathroom stall eating my lunch alone because I didn’t know anyone on Jammie Stairs and I’d done too many loops to try find someone (… I’m not proud… I’m not explaining my logic… Let’s just move on). No matter how openly I acknowledge the problem, though, I’m not sure I’ll ever have full control of it. Every time, I’d rather walk all the isles of a shop before asking where something is, and I’d eat a bowl of soup rather than telling my waiter that I actually ordered a sandwich. Regrettably, as much as I tell myself, “calm down, Megan. Nobody has noticed the silence”, I’ll probably still fill them with a high-pitched, over-enthusiastic: “haha so this one time I vomited on myself” and hope for the best.

Alien Observations

Greetings, fellow aliens

I trust this message reaches you all in good time. After my first week on planet earth, I have decided to keep a log of the human experiences that I’ve found most striking thus far. I write excitedly to confirm that if their behaviour continues in its current fashion, we could use my research and intel to destroy them. This is if they don’t do it themselves.

Observation 1:

I’ve tried with great effort to work out what creates human outcry, mainly through observing social media trends. I’ve had to do a lot of sifting, as a formal means of communication for the creatures involves documenting even the most mundane daily activities. Unfortunately, there is no consistency in what upsets them and I’ve found it almost impossible to find a balance.

For instance, they’re able to show mass empathy and support for illness when they’re required to pour water over themselves. However, they don’t show very much concern for earth’s water shortages. Moreover, it would appear that people across the globe die regularly from starvation. This didn’t seem to bother the humans nearly as much as a price increase in avocados. Avocados, commonly referred to in conversations I’ve encountered as “avos”, must be a sacred food to the humans. They take great care with their choice of avo, squeezing the outside of almost every one in the pile before settling on one. Presumably, they do so so that they’re well-informed as to what the avo is like as a whole, and not just on the surface. They’re less inclined towards such rigorous investigation when it comes to forming their political opinions, however, and are often so cavalier in such choices that just one article can convince them.  From this, I might assume that the difference is: anything that is a recurring, constant issue is cared about less. Also, that the financial status of the person affected can sway the reach of the issue.

Observation 2:

I don’t understand what happened in this particular observation, for my grasp on behaviour under the influence of alcohol still has many holes. Often, what I’ve learnt previously is thrown off when alcohol is involved. For instance, the validity of my observations on human attraction were skewed after a night in a club. I’m still making sense of that night.

Faint sounds of the latest “Avicii” song rung out onto the street. A small group of males that were huddled, smoking, had an air that suggested years of experience with the practice. Apart for the one, that is, who was coughing and spluttering, clearly not enjoying himself. He continued regardless. Humans often do this – continuing with things that make them unhappy. It’s a concept I’m still working on understanding. Wilting against a wall, a sobbing female was being told repeatedly by another female: “He doesn’t deserve you”. Her other friend vomitted onto the street while this happened. Not far away from them, a couple had smushed their faces together and were doing so dramatically against a wall.

Then, a drunk girl whose mascara no longer remained firmly on her eyelashes arrived, two fingers slumped to the side, lazily carrying her high heels that were causing her too much pain to keep on her feet. This is another practice that makes predominantly female humans quite unhappy, yet one they continue with anyway. They rarely wear heels throughout the course of the night, so it seems as if they might be better off not wearing them at all.

Now, the most jarring experience that unfolded was that these drunk humans were then offered little red sweets and pancakes – free of charge – by people who had remained sober in order to offer this service. I’m puzzled, to say the least. Temporarily, I’ve concluded that it’s possible that humans reward each other for drunkenness with food? I cannot be sure.

Observation 3:

The concept of blame is one the most interesting. It appears humans will only take responsibility for their positive actions. For instance, they are quick to make their achievements very public, or the achievements of their friends and family. However, when an action does not reflect well on their character, they try to make other humans take responsibility for it. Or, at least, this is the only rational explanation that I can deduce from the blame-game that ensues. For instance, if a female is sexually abused by a male, it somehow becomes the fault of the victim, as opposed to the abuser. To my horror, victims are encouraged regularly to dress and behave in certain ways to avoid various assaults, as opposed to abusers being encouraged not to assault.

My friends, I will continue with my research daily and report back whenever I have new information for you. Until then, I urge you to begin interpreting my observations – maybe the best way of understanding it is from your perspective, having never been to earth.

Until then, all the best

P.S. I’ve included a photo of myself, in a form that the humans are very fond of. It’s called a “selfie”.

acX6kgi-1

(Stuart) Little Sense

So, there’s a family called the Littles and they decide that they want to adopt a child. A very emotional, intimate decision to make, I’d assume. Yet, despite all their considerations and planning, they somehow manage to get talked into adopting a mouse instead. Now, I’ve always been a sucker for peer pressure. But, really? How is it possible that you furnish an entire bedroom and prep your family for the arrival of a child and then change your mind after meeting just one talking mouse? It seems really irresponsible. I have so many questions.

How on earth did a mouse end up in an orphanage in the first place?

Why are we not offered any explanation as to why there is a mouse in an orphanage? It would take roughly 2 minutes to make up something that explains why this particular mouse is there. Do all mice talk? Can other childless mice come and adopt mice? Is Stuart hypothetically meant to be adopted by other mice? Why is this not explained? It makes a huge difference. We could assume this is the case, because the woman in charge urges them not to adopt Stuart because it’s weird for a human to do so… BUT THEN WHY IS HE THERE AND HOW DOES HE HAVE ADOPTION PAPERS?! I need answers.

Why didn’t they warn anyone?

Chilled. You decide to adopt the mouse. Every man to his own, I guess. Who am I to judge? But once you’ve made this decision, you then have some other responsibilities. Do you not think it would be really important to tell the extended group of family and friends who are expecting a human that you’ve done this? Any time BEFORE they buy him a BICYCLE would suffice. Even if it isn’t for their sake – bike’s are expensive, you know. What about for Stuart’s sake? Do you know how embarrassing it must have been for him to receive that bicycle? Why would you do that to him? I’m sure he already felt like a bit of a freak show before you made him pretend to be grateful for something a gillion times his size? Why wouldn’t you just send everyone a text that reads: “Hey guys. Change of plan. We adopted a mouse instead of a person. Please ensure your gifts are appropriately sized. See you at the welcome party! xoxo”

How do they expect George to be OK with everything?  

Before you adopt someone/thing, you’ve got to assess your current family situation. The Littles had a son, George, and a cat (!!!), Snowball. They then spontaneously adopt a mouse and expect both of them to be OK with it. I’m sorry, I know Stuart is lovely and observant and intelligent. I know that it all works out for the best in the end. But you actually cannot tell your little boy that you’re going to bring him a brother and then bring him a mouse. It’s so unfair. Do you understand how excited he must have been for someone to engage with? He had probably been fantasizing for months about a companion on the sports field. They could at least give him time to process the information before expecting him to treat Stuart like a brother.

Why don’t they take precautions to ensure Stuart is safe?

Snowball and the other cats want to literally consume Stuart. Poor Snowball becomes the laughing stock of the town because he has a mouse as a master. But let’s pretend Snowball’s feelings aren’t important (because I mean, he’s just an animal… OH WAIT…) Stuart risks being EATEN. Why has the family not even thought about that? Why aren’t they keeping an eye on Snowball? Also, now that they have a mouse as a son, why aren’t they making certain efforts to stop him being harmed? I mean, we wouldn’t want him to drown in a washing machine or die in a boat/train explosion or be kidnapped by the cat mafia or anything extremely probable like that (Spoiler Alert… Was that supposed to come first?)

I’m willing to admit that I may be being slightly too interrogatory with what is, when ignoring the many unanswered questions, a very sweet movie. Heck, it made me really want a mouse that could talk. I would just hope, if in the same situation, it would be a choice and not a surprise so that I could make the necessary preparations.

It’s crazy, man

taylor-swift-blank-space-video

We’ve got to stop calling girls crazy. All of us need to stop it – girls and boys. “Crazy” is not an emotion or a feeling. “Crazy” is a type of behaviour. It also implies a lack of reasoning, a state of insanity, an inability to be rational. It suggests that every emotional reaction is unreasoned.

Why “crazy”? Why not sad? Hurt? Confused? Angry? Disappointed? We say “crazy” as opposed to dealing with the actual emotion at hand, so that there’s no chance that it could be our fault. Calling someone hurt puts responsibility on the hurter, whereas calling someone crazy just means that they randomly decided to start behaving psychotically.

You might be thinking, at this stage, “boys act crazy sometimes too” and yeah, preach, this is true. But how many times have you heard a guy called “crazy”, and how many times have you heard them be told they’re “acting like a girl”. SHIT, MAN, IMAGINE THAT. I mean, if there’s one way to scare a boy back into his man-make-fire, man-don’t-cry box it’s to… dare I even say it here, so publically… tell them their behaviour is similar to that of a girl. The number of times I’ve heard the phrase “you throw like a girl” supports that being “like a girl” is offensive. I know plenty of girls who throw really well. In fact, next time, what I’d suggest you say when someone throws badly is: “you throw like Meg” – it’ll get the point across much more effectively, and is actually true.

I’m not, for a second, saying that girls don’t have the capacity to behave irrationally at a certain time of month. Please note this distinction right now. Bruh, my friends keep a calendar so that they know to avoid me when the painters are in. Catch me while I’m sailing the red sea and you’ll see a side of me you didn’t think existed – that’s if you can actually see me behind the mountains of potatoes I’m consuming whilst weeping and lamenting on the good old days when I was skinny. But THOSE ARE MY HORMONES. This is an exception when there’s actually nothing, biologically, I can do about it. Do you think I purposefully eat like a walrus once a month? Do you think I enjoy being mean to small children? Or that I meant to kick my puppy that one time? Or that I intentionally shout profanities at innocent drivers, as if they were personally responsible for the development of the female anatomy? I’d be very interested to see how boys behaved if their ovaries felt like they were being heated by a bunch of exhausted labourers chucking coal into a furnace while Satan yells: “MORE! It needs to be HOTTER”.

Now, if my male readers have stuck around after I started referencing my ovaries, I suspect they’re thinking: “it’s not all men”. Ya, well, EXACTLY. Of course it’s not. Firstly, I don’t have the time, energy or resources to ask every boy if they think girls’ behaviour can be “crazy” at times. Secondly, we are logical human beings that can assume there are boys that don’t think this. But if you are able to acknowledge that not all boys are quick to brand all girls with an iron of judgement, labelling their emotional responses as unreasoned, then you are surely able to acknowledge that you can’t say with any authority that “all girls are crazy”.

You know what? I will agree that sometimes girls can be ridiculous – whether it’s freaking out because their boyfriend didn’t reply to their Whatsapps, or because they went for lunch with another girl, or because they refuse to post a million Instagram posts of them lunging. But boys can be just as ridiculous – because moments of irrationality, dear reader, are a human quality, not a female one. Irrationality is super annoying – I get that – but just stop using the word “crazy” as an easy “out” when dealing with situations. Blanket terms only make it more difficult to differentiate between what’s actually justified and what isn’t.

Heck, I’ve caught myself calling other girls crazy, which is possibly even worse, because I make it OK for guys to say it. It also suggests that I’m putting myself above other women – as if I’m somehow the only one who isn’t crazy. Girls have accepted this alleged personality trait and this just makes them so terrified of appearing crazy that they stop standing up for themselves, or speaking up when they’re feeling something compromising to a relationship. Yes, that’s right, we have actually bullied girls to a point where they’re scared of being like the other ones.

Once we’ve generally stopped incorrectly assuming that a surplus of emotions equate an absence of logic, we then need stop talking about “crazy ex’s”. All this does is take the responsibility off of the other person in the relationship – break ups don’t happen because of one person. It isn’t possible. If you feel like you can prove me wrong – speak up. Someone doesn’t just “go crazy” or “start acting crazy” with absolutely no motive, unless it’s a clinical mental illness, in which case fuck you for joking about such a serious topic. Maybe she started acting differently because things weren’t working? Or because she felt insecure? Or because she hadn’t complained about anything, ever, for fear of seeming crazy and then everything that ever hurt her exploded out of her like when you leave something saucy in the microwave for too long?

I cry when I get angry. It is possibly one of the most annoying, disabling things that can happen during an argument. I once ran off the stage during a debate against Sacred Heart because someone’s point of information made me so angry and panicked that I burst into tears. Every time I went up to debate thereafter, my team would (jokingly, obviously) yell “someone get the tissues”. I assure you – these tears are entirely involuntary. They aren’t emotionally manipulative, nor are they a tactic, nor are they a sign of my giving up or admitting defeat. It just happens when I’m angry. It’s crippling, because it usually happens at the juiciest part of an argument, at which point, the person I’m arguing with refuses to continue because it’s “not fair because I’m crying”. Suddenly, everything I’m saying is irrelevant because of something I can’t help. Oh and obviously because I’m crazy. That too. I’m wrong and I’m crazy. Because only wrong, crazy people cry. Not because people can be both emotional and right at the same time. And just like that, the tears help us lose track of what I’m actually saying.

I’m happy to finish off by acknowledging that people who call girls “crazy” aren’t making an intentional attempt to disrespect or diminish female emotions when they do it. It’s cavalier most of the time. “That bitch cray”, folks might say. “Stop acting crazy”. “This is crazy”. I’m not saying it’s intentional, I’m just saying it’s damaging. If it doesn’t stop, we are not only going to remove a women’s right to be unhappy about something, but we’re also going to forget how to tell the difference between genuine unreasonable behaviour, and behaviour we’d just “rather not deal with”.

My Procrastination Declaration

I take my procrastinating very seriously. If you’re waiting for the day where I get some studying done before alphabetising the content, colour coordinating my book shelf, cleaning my room (just kidding, I’d study before doing that), baking an array of utterly disgusting treats (the oven is the portal to hell) or working out a variation of marks I hypothetically need to get in order to obtain different averages, then you’re going to be waiting for a very long time. I’d recommend waiting for Godot, rather. It’s a safer bet.

People who aren’t procrastinators at heart will never truly understand the curse with which people like myself are plagued. It’s really not as simple as just sitting down and working, take my word for it. And, if you don’t want to take my word for it, I’d be happy to fight with you about it. So, if one more person tells me to “just pay attention”, or to “just turn off my phone”, I’m going to take their un-doodled-on study-notes, spend a whole day doing an online Origami course, and make those perfect sources of knowledge into a swan. And then I’ll cry because I still don’t understand the use of metaphor in Kincaid’s “Lucy”, but I know how to make a fucking paper swan.

In what is possibly the most desperate means of avoiding work that I’ve sunk to yet, I’ve categorised a couple of different types of procrastinators, for they’re a breed both diverse but typical in nature.

1. The social media whore

Now, I’d just be lying if I claimed that I haven’t already sold my soul to the Internet. I am it and it is me. There is no selfie that goes unSnapchatted, no amusing moment that goes unstatused, no “OMG THE MOUNTAIN” scene that goes unInstagrammed and no mundane daily activity that goes unhashtagged.

But there are others who either deny this pre-existing obsession, or allow it to lay dormant in the time prior to exams. These people are the lurkers, usually, who know everything that’s happening in people’s lives – because everyone stalks but only the brave admit it – but never make any physical show of it. During exams, however, the lurkers come out to play and hand out likes and wallposts like those people who hand out promotion fliers at traffic lights, similarly in the attitude of “I don’t care if you actually read it, just take it”. Everyone’s profile picture gets a like. A Snapchat of your desk with your carefully positioned stationary is mandatory. A proceeding Snapchat of your bored face which, ironically, is supposed to show people how much you’ve been studying. It’s all a part of the SM-whore’s daily exam routine.

2. The gym bunny

In what I can only assume, from observation, is a desperate attempt to convince themselves that they have got their shit together, there are people who suddenly do all the things they haven’t been doing all semester, and give them unproportional weight on their priorities list. Like laundry. And finally sorting out your stolen driver’s licence at home affairs. And trying out that quaint Italian bistro on Long Street that you read about. And emailing your extended relatives who you haven’t spoken to in ages. And exercising.

The Virgin Active in Claremont significantly lacks oxygen at this time of year from the number of overweight, unfit, tequila-soaked students using up all the clean air whilst trying to incline walk for more than 10 minutes. I suppose the realisation of “well, my brain isn’t going to make me money” is largely prevalent in terms of motivation for this. But, mainly, I suspect the thought process is more: I need to avoid studying, but it needs to seem valid. I KNOW. MY HEALTH. Yes. My health. People always harp on about how important that is. It’s that thing I’ve been poisoning with alcohol with a higher alcohol percentage than my DP mark, right? That thing I’ve been spiting with chicken nuggets all semester? Yes. It is important. I must health until I’m healthed enough to work. Healthy. Yes. Healthy is important.

3. Netflix and chill

While there may be people who you assume are hard-working students diligently rotting behind their bedroom desk, they’re most probably just hibernating in bed watching series by themselves. This category often merges with the social media whore, who is usually an expert in multitasking after years of pretending to be talking to someone when they’re actually scrolling through a social media site. However, it can be separated into its own category. This is primarily because these people have their parents on Facebook who pop them a message which reads, “Grey’s Anatomy, eh? That doesn’t sound like Economics to me!” if they’re caught fraternising on the many, many outlets of joy and distraction. Worse yet is when other people’s moms tell on you. “Danny’s mom said that you all went to Camps Bay the other day? Mm. Hard student life, eh?” (My mom doesn’t ever say the word “eh”. I don’t know why I keep doing it). Ah, boy, that mom-network is a thrillingly powerful, but terrifyingly viral organisation which I hope, one day, to be the leader of.

You know you’re at least one of them, to some degree. Whether you reward your hour of studying with a 7 hour series-break, or decide today is the day you internalise your inner Nigela Lawson, or take to a new crafts hobby, or just find yourself watching videos of cats flushing the toilet by themselves, you’re definitely not studying as much as you should be, let alone how much your mom thinks you are. Just know one thing: no matter how bad it gets, take a deep breath and think to yourself “at least I didn’t just spend two hours writing a blog about it”.

Meg Thomas' Blog

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 68 other followers