Sunday, March 23, 2014

Second post of the new project

I'm upset to say I haven't gotten much in the way of ideas since last time. As I write this, I'm sort of considering something about ADD/ADHD, but I feel like it'd be too out-of-the-way of my original plan to learn Japanese

The connection is this: over the course of this,the majority of the stress and the reason I'd been overwhelmed was an ongoing argument with my parents about school. This is going to sound like the weakest argument ever, but this is what happened. After I ended last year with lower grades than my parents were happy with, they wanted to try something different. And so, starting at the beginning of this year, I was not allowed to do anything recreational except for go running and read books during the school week. I wasn't happy, but i figured that would make sense, and I gave it a try. For almost a month I worked hard,handed in every assignment, and studied hard. After that, I burned out. My theory is I was working too hard without a break, and I couldn't focus after all that. My grades dropped pretty fast. I was sick of the work, of having nothing else to do with my time. Friends I don't see at school were drifting away because i never got to talk to them, or do anything with them. 

This is a huge deal for me. Most of the people I consider my real friends are people I've never met, people who live halfway across the country that I've met online. I realize that sounds terrible to a lot of people, and my dad absolutely hates it. That's not to say I don't have good friends here, but when they go to different schools or are homeschooled, the online interaction was my primary connection to them. 

(Maybe I could do something about online communities and relationships. It'd be an even bigger stretch than the ADD thing though)

Point being, I started dreading homework, ignoring it, making excuses and putting it off as much as I could. This lead to more stress, because I would inevitably fight with my parents about the low grades, and they assumed the issue was that I had too much distraction, as I'd been spending most of my time working at the library. So I was confined to the house during the week, forced to do homework in the dining room so my mother could look over my shoulder and make sure I was on track. 
I'm not a person who functions well if someone keeps checking up on me. I don't mean to say I shied away from human contact, I didn't dislike talking to people, but I'd gotten used to spending a great deal of my time online, more or less in my own bubble on Skype or something. I did my work alone, at my desk or in the corner of the library. I had no problem being around people, i was just more comfortable in my own space. 

This is turning into more of an all-about-me kinda thing, but I think it's going somewhere worthwhile. I hope. 

So being forced to work in the central room of the house, with people moving past me, behind me, all the time was more than a little frustrating. At this point, I got even less done. I had a near panic attack after a day or two, trying to work at the kitchen table. Little things were getting to me, the fact that the desk was at the wrong height, the chair made my neck and back sore, even the fact that my headphone wire wasn't where it usually was. This sounds silly, but when my computer and desk are a huge source of mental stability for me, not having that familiar place to work really screws with me. In addition, the fact that people were constantly moving around me was something I didn't have to deal with at my desk in the basement. It's not like I'm usually sealed away, but it's somewhat secluded, at least enough that I can tune out distractions and things.

On that note, the central issue was this: My parents were convinced that any form of distraction would render me incapable of focusing on work, and I would put it off and play video games or something of the sort. My belief (which you probably won't believe) was that I couldn't function well without some kind of small, enjoyable distraction. It's impossible to completely remove distractions from an environment, even if I just wind up day-dreaming. But what has always helped me focus was having something else to occupy the parts of my mind that aren't being used. That's not quite correct, but I don't know how else to explain it. I used to bring a piece of wire or string or clay to classes to play with while I would listen to the teacher or work. Some teachers thought it was distracting me, or providing a disruption to the class, and take away my little distraction. Others would notice that it helped me focus, and leave me be. Another side of this issue is that I often take frequent breaks. Some days, I won't work for more than a half hour at a time before I go and check my email, look around on a forum for a few minutes or something. But only when I need to, to keep from getting burned out on work. Other days, I don't feel that need, and I can work for hours at a time with no difficulty.

The classic advice with writer's block is to just pretend you're not stuck, and try and try and try to push through it. In my case, at least what I believe, is that pushing through too much will completely overwhelm me, and the best thing I can do, if I'm completely stuck for more than a couple minutes, is to step away and go do something else. Chat on skype, or play a quick game online. Something to refresh me, to re-direct my thoughts. And then, more often than not I can easily jump back into what I was doing.

I'm starting to put together an idea of where I want to go with this. Something about ADD, how everyone's solution to problems is different. Many people can use the same methods, simply working hard and removing distraction, and succeed easily. But some people, myself included, need a different approach. I'm not saying the best thing for me is to succumb to the distraction all the time, but going for 100% work completely screws me over after a while.

Okay, it's time for me to wrap this up. I've been rambling long enough, and I could probably write another couple paragraphs, but I need to make a plan for the end of 20 time. I'm feeling really good about the idea above, putting together something about differently structured learning, and individuality in school/learning stuff. I'm having a hard time finding the right words for this, but it's something I'm very passionate about, particularly after this year having been terrible for me, as far as grades.

I think this is something I can really get into. Here's hoping I take it somewhere worthwhile.

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