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Academics

An Open Journal on Academic Disillusionment

The start of a new semester begins with the same question: will I or won’t I enjoy this course? For me, the answer has been depressingly on the downturn. The more I take courses in my major, I feel like I’m just going in circles. Each class talks about the same theories and practices, with slightly different applications. Textbook readings are duller and duller. 

I consider myself someone with a thirst for knowledge who gets excited upon learning something new. I am usually the student who participates in discussions. But, I feel as if my identity as a student has been shot. It’s put me in such a low period because I usually derive so much joy from school. There’s always the healthy amount of stress that comes with paper deadlines, midterm exams, and research papers. But in the end, I always have the feeling that I’ve accomplished something. 

Without my courses giving me purpose, I’m just floating through life and I have no idea how to ground myself. I spend my days drifting from class to work to lunch to my bed, watching episodes of Criminal Minds so I don’t have to face the silence. 

The second semester of my junior year feels like a pivotal moment. I’m applying to summer internships that have a direct correlation to my post-graduation career, which is only a year away. Never has a year felt like such a short amount of time. So why do I feel so lost? 

Last week, a guest speaker came to one of my classes and essentially stomped all over the life I had planned for myself. He talked about his role within a strategic public relations company and I just panicked. I had no idea what he was talking about the entire time, with professional jargon obscuring any rational thought. 

When I returned home from the night class, I went off the rails. I just started ranting to my roommates about my frustrations and how I have no idea what my existence even is anymore. As I laughed about the situation, I choked back angry tears. I realized — I do not want to do what this speaker does. And that scared me, because I thought it was what I was working towards. Everyone tells me at least I know what I don’t want, but it begs the question, what do I want if not that?

To make matters worse, the very next day I received the worst grade I’ve received in my entire life on an article. In the midst of academic turmoil, that was a shot to the heart, especially because I take a lot of pride in my writing. As much as I wanted to hide, cry and give into the safety of my blankets and pillows-a warm cocoon of protection- I made myself feel the rejection. I always thought I was stronger than my harshest critic, but I’m just as vulnerable as I ever was. 

It really felt like the walls I built around me were crumbling down. And not in a dramatic ‘I’ve emerged a beautiful butterfly’ way but a ‘there’s an encroaching storm about the destroy everything I am’ way.

So where to go from here?

In a matter of two days, a friend of mine reached out to offer a connection in a field I’ve always dreamed about but was afraid to reach for in case I missed it. I said yes. Not knowing what is to come from this small introduction, or where I am headed, one thing is for sure: I know where I don’t want to go. 

Kendall Shirvan is a junior studying Communication, Journalism and Art History at the George Washington University. Kendall serves as Senior Editor for GWU's chapter of Her Campus. She is also involved in Kappa Delta Sorority and works for the GW Textile Museum. When she's not doing schoolwork, she enjoys watching Marvel movies, reading Harry Potter, and drawing.
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