Actual revision or just picking the right filter for Instagram?Steven S

In an aimless bout of procrastination one evening, as I shifted through the dregs of ill-informed blogposts about Cambridge, I came across an alarming viewpoint. It was a death knell to my aspirations to simply recharge my batteries in the holidays, and to my focus on self-care over self-motivation: the expectation that one will work throughout the vacations if one desires to achieve a First at the end of their degree.

What did this mean? Like so many others, I had only managed pitiful quantities of work over the Christmas holiday. Was I condemned to never being able to achieve a First? Or should I work doubly hard now in order to catch up? Was there even time to do that?

Despite every inch of passion we may hold, there is something so timelessly, agonisingly, unequivocally dull about the whole process of study

Though I now strongly doubt that this statement is the entire truth, it still disturbs me. There are no clear guidelines as to exactly how much work, both inside and outside of term, is the normal amount – no set number of pages of notes you must make in order to allow yourself to indulge in sentiments of readiness before your exams, and no specific quantity of texts to read or books to revise. Some can work seemingly for an eternity, yet attain the same grade as others who have rested across every vacation. There are no standards to be found at all with regards to study. But, in this case, what on earth should we be doing?

We all love learning about our subjects – we wouldn’t be reading them otherwise. But, despite every inch of passion we may hold, there is something so timelessly, agonisingly, unequivocally dull about the whole process of study. Spending hours manually going over notes from a lecture you cannot actually remember attending, or reading the same bullet points 50 times over the course of a week, or trying to arrange your documents into some semblance of order – it is all soul-destroying, and there is no escaping this. You can try to make it ‘fun’ with music, or with regular snack breaks, or with a reward for getting through one page, but the fact remains that there are so many more brilliant things you could be spending your time doing, rather than being cooped up in a musty room, attempting to read the scrawl of notes you made in Week One of Michaelmas.

Perhaps, you tell yourself, those quotation-wielding revision experts bombarding your Instagram timeline with images of their immaculately highlighted tomes of notes have spent more time choosing the correct filter rather than actually consuming knowledge. Or at least, that’s what you try to believe. You fear the impending revelation that everybody else is better than you are at the whole University situation. Group chat discussions about study topics or any glimpse of a friend’s desk in a brief Snapchat is enough to send you into complete hysteria. Indeed, it is sometimes this terror alone that can drive you to actually sit down and do some revision with a larger impetus than any personal ambition to excel in your subject.

But this is all normal.

The truth is that we all fear we are not doing enough. We all struggle to motivate ourselves, and we certainly all find ourselves procrastinating time away when there is no realistic reason not to work. It is human nature. I will be doing my prelims next term. Yes, they are the exams that ‘don’t really matter.’ Yes, my DoS has reiterated time and time again that it is almost impossible to fail. And, yes, I know I shouldn’t pin so much on two measly papers. But I am still so terrified that I don’t know enough. Why? Because I fear that others know more. And yet, in all reality, I know that everyone goes through these same sentiments – and we can’t all be right.

So maybe there is only one thing we can do: just keep on going at our own pace. After all, we all work in different ways, at different times, and with different methods. Study is an individual process: the goal is yours, and yours alone, and you will always control the guidelines