This break without university has undoubtedly been a good one. First, I went to Thailand for 6 days and had a whale of a time with my sister. We took the night train (14 hours!) to Chiang mai where we spent three days visiting temples, experiencing the night safari, cuddling with tigers, spending too much time at the night markets, experiencing a day looking after elephants, then we flew back to Bangkok where we chilled at Siam paragon and the aquarium, learnt to cook Thai food at a Thai cooking school (though we both agree, we’d likely never make the dishes so tasty again!) and watched Thai boxing at lumpinee (=awesome) and got hopelessly lost in the maze that is Bangkok (=not so awesome). I got back and had a few days to mozy about as I wished before I jetted off to spend the weekend in Penang with my friend. It was only the second time I have been a tourist in Malaysia and the first time I have ventured outside of KL and it was wonderful. I went to the beach for the first time in three years and it was so hot and sweaty to be there, but it was so wonderful to take off my shoes and let my feet sink into the sand, to wade through the waves as I hunted down shells and finally, to sit down in the shade and read idly to the sound of the waves. Of course there was other stuff, too. I have posts about both these holidays lingering in my drafts, waiting to be brutally edited and in desperate need of spell checking. I will see if I ever get around to that. University started again this week and I am feeling hopelessly overwhelmed and unmotivated already. I think I will look back on my second year as university as one of the most brilliant (moving abroad!) and one of the most horrible (second year electrical and electronic engineering!).
I don’t look forward to uni at all anymore. In fact, it quite depresses me. I dread lectures, and I dread labs even more, and mini projects involving programming and real time systems I dread the most. This term is suspiciously light on contact time, which only makes me dread the sheer amount of work I am likely going to have to undertake in my own time. Not only that but there are a lot of labs. I hate labs.
I am beginning to seriously wonder if I should have listened when I told people I wished to do engineering and they told me don’t do it. I had a lecture yesterday introducing a ‘most pleasant’ module called “professional skills for engineers”. This module involves two individual presentations, a multimedia presentation and a group presentation. I started the lecture feeling vaguely unhappy about the whole thing, I ended it feeling in desperate need of a tub of ben & jerrys and a lot of angry rock music. The group presentation involves us choosing us our own groups, which for most people is a good thing, but for the shy, such things are not quite so pleasant. I shall have to wait to see who I am forced together with, and how it all turns out (likely: badly) Then there is the individual presentations which have to be on something engineering and science related and they suggest do something we know, as we are likely to be questioned about whatever topic we choose. And, to make it even more fun, the two presentations have to be on different topics. I realized as I was sitting there that there is nothing I know, let alone two things.
I am a second year engineering student and I have no idea why I am doing this subject anymore. What are my areas of interest? Surely I should know this by now?! Well, after much thinking, I’d say I sorta have an interest energy generation and renewables. I think that was one of the reasons I got into this subject and I don’t think anything has happened over the course over my degree to sway those interests to something else. But what do I know about these? Sadly, I draw a blank. I have no passion for this degree do I? I remember in A levels there was this guy who wanted to go into aerospace engineering and in his free time he built model airplanes. His friends all teased him but I bet he is doing really well with that sort of interest in the subject- that it even bleeds over into his personal time. In my personal time I cannot wait to get away from my degree. I don’t build circuits for fun, I don’t make myself personal coding projects, nor do I even read anything science and technology related (I attempted to read newscientist weekly for a time but it got too much…) Just why am I doing this subject, I wonder, when I am so…so ungeeky. When I don’t really have any passion for it. I have an interest in it, its not like I hate everything I study, but in the end, am I just getting by? When I talk to my dad, an experienced engineer, he can immediately talk about anything engineering related- he can tell me about components and circuit design and different technologies and analyse an unfamiliar circuit within moments. Will I ever be that competent? I certainly am not now, and I don’t even feel like I am even beginning on the path to that level of knowledgeable, as I probably should be. There are so many basic things that I continually forget.
I am beginning to doubt that I ever will become a competent engineer. I proved it in these exams last January- did I not? The exams were unfamiliar, and so I did badly. I cannot help but think that If I was a a good engineer, I would be clever enough to tackle even unfamiliar questions, because I would be clever enough and knowledgeable enough about my subject to apply it to even unfamiliar situations. With the way these exams went this January I feel like I have proven myself unworthy of this degree, or rather had it confirmed. I have never felt like a good engineer. I struggle so much with my subject. And with the way this subject is, most of the people on my course are the sort of insanely clever, well rounded individuals you’d ever meet. When I compare myself to them I cannot help but find myself lacking. I have always been aware of the difference between them and me, but it is only becoming more apparent as the degree gets harder and they continue to flourish whilst I…feel like I am being left behind. I feel so very unsuited to this. I wonder if they too are worried about what to do for this presentation, or if when the lecturer told us about it something immediately popped into their head. I wonder if they too are still floundering with no idea of what they want to do in the future, without any real goals and no passion for anything. Somehow, I doubt it. Everyone has at least one thing they feel passionate about, don’t they?
This is the thing, the worrying thing, there is nothing I feel truly passionate about. Well, nothing that matters. Being able to consume books like air is not exactly an employable skill. When it comes to those- what do I have? I speak just one language, I am terrible at sports, I am shy and reclusive, and then I am not even good at my degree. If only I could just be clever, if only I could have some competency in my degree I would feel more confident and more driven, but I feel myself stalling because I just.. don’t know anymore. I really dislike my degree right now. I feel lost and confused and continually disappointed in myself. I know that I need to overcome these feelings, that no matter what happened in January that I need to keep working but I cannot help the thought that it doesn’t matter how much I work, I will likely never end up anywhere with my terribly personality and how terrible I am at my degree and I think, well maybe I should just enjoy myself and read books instead. Its not good, nothing is good right now. I thought I’d be able to sort myself out with a good break but in the end I was running away for a bit, now I am back exactly where I was.
My room is a mess, my Japanese books lay forgotten on the shelf, my kindle keeps getting fuller and fuller, I go to bed too late and its not like I can ever get to sleep anyway, and I am gaining weight from binge eating too much. I am a bit of a mess right now. I have been for a while and I am at a loss to how to fix it. I just…don’t care anymore. no, not that’s not right. I do care, I care so much that I am retreating out of fear and trying desperately to pretend that I don’t. I have all these EXPECTATIONS and all these DREAMS and I am having to realise how unrealistic they all are, how maybe I am not the sort of person who can achieve those things I dream of, that perhaps I’ve always had too high expectations for myself. I want to be one of those clever, well rounded people. More than that I want to be a competent, knowledgeable engineer. But it feels like… I feel like I’m trying to squeeze myself into a mold that is not made for me.
I need to deal with this and I don’t know how. I need to do these presentations and act knowledgeable when I am not. I need to work in groups in labs and pull my weight but how can I when I just do not know what I am doing? I am dreading this semester. Not looking forward to it at all.