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Oh glorious failure. The exam went horrible and I felt severely depressed afterwards. It was my second oral theoretical physics exam ever. And in the last one I focussed too much on concepts and didnt really look at the derivations, so this time I looked very carefully at all the derivations and a little bit less at the concepts and oh wonder the professor didnt care about the derivations because she considers them "too difficult". I had the best possible grade in my three previous theoretical physics exams which were all written exams but those oral exams and the studying from home really kills me. I never enjoyed studying and university less than in the past few months. I feel so much worse because all my friends seem to be doing much better in those exams and with this lockdown situation than I am, even though I was always the best in the written exams. I feel like such a failure. By now its highly likely that they will get better master grades than I will and I just cant deal with it. It depresses the shit out of me. I honestly dont know what to do. The social part of university was always my biggest motivation and energy source and having this taken away just makes me so miserable. I dont think there was ever a time in my life were I felt more like a loser than now, even when I quit my previous bachelors degree a couple of years ago I didnt feel that bad. I had this huge goal for over a year now that I wanted a perfect score masters degree but by now its almost unatainable. And I just have such a strong urge to quit because I feel like its not worth it if I cant get the perfect score. I know this is whining on an extremely high level but I just dont know what to do anymore. Its such a horrible feeling to see everyone who was worse than you run past you and even if I only compare me to my older self I still lose the comparison. 

But of course the failure lies with me. This semester was also by far my most stressful semester ever and there was a time around christmas were I thougt I might get burnout or something. I basically spend half my christmas holidays in bed because I was so stressed and felt so bad because of it. 

However I do know that I didnt give 100% this semester. If I am honest I might have given it about 70% max. And by now I know how those oral exams work. So the next semester which starts on monday (yey almost 1 week of holidays) will be different. I will focuss right on the beginning on consistent studying. I will summarize every lecture and I will go through those summaries regularly. If I can keep this up I will have a much easier time studying in the exam period. I know it might not be enough for the 1.0 masters degree but I will still do everything I can to get close. If its a 1.1 I might have failed my goal but atleast its still a good grade. 

I also want to add that I just played dota all day because I didnt know any other way to cope with how I felt. I thougt about just getting drunk but thats a door I dont want to open ever. 

I believe its also time for me to grow up, to stop wasting all my time. I watched a lot of jordan peterson videos today and yesterday and it really motivated me to get my shit together. I will stop chosing instant gratification over longterm gains because to be honest I dont think true happiness is achievable for me as long as I dont become a person I can respect. One of the biggest things holding me back from no gaming and a better life is that I quit as soon as I become unhappy. Then the monolog in my brain always comes up with stuff like "well I dont feel good, I felt much better while I was still gaming, I should go back to gaming" or "ah man I am to miserable to be productive I will just play dota". But I decided for myself I will rather be miserable and productive than happy in gaming. Because its not real happiness its fake. Real happiness will appear along the correct path. One of self respect, sacrifice and growth. And I am willing to accept that it will not be right there from the start but it will become more and more as long as I stay consistent in my approach. 

A big part of this is also that I always felt "entitled to pleasure". Kind of how some parents teach their children that they can eat candy once they ate their broccoli. Like that I deserve to play dota in the evening because I was "so productive". The big problem with this is that I created a sort of anchor for myself. I connect playing dota with feeling good because its a reward for good behaviour. But for the same reason a woman that just got left by her boyfriend sits on the couch drinks wine and eats ice cream I stare on my screen and play games when I feel down. So gaming is my go to activity when bored, as a reward and when I feel bad. Basically not many other reasons left to do something. But this will change now. I am not entitled to pleasure, happiness or gaming. 

Tomorrow is the first day of getting my shit together, I will clean up my desk area, attend two meetings, workout, shop and cook and read. I will not game!

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Day one of not gaming

Last night I had quite some trouble sleeping because I was still so upset about everything. I was close to getting a panic attack but I managed to calm myself down and eventualy was able to sleep.

Im beginning to accept that this situation is just harder for me than for some of my friends. Tonight I talked with some of my friends about this and I realized that the physics master is really not made for me. There arent really any courses that I am very interested in. I just pick the ones that seem a little bit interesting but I would rather not take any more physics courses. But well what can you do. One of my friends did his bachelor thesis in statistical physics and our university has so many master courses for that but I genuinely hate it. He can basically do his whole master in statistical physics and he loves it so much. Im really happy for him that he found his nieche but Im also a little bit sad and hopeless at the moment about my own "place" in physics. Its hard for me to accept that my friends will all obtain a better master than me and it will take me some time to process it but thats just the way it is.

I was better in the bachelor because the system just fit me much better. I will still try my best and this semester I will give it 100% because its the last semester that I have courses and exams anyways. After that I will write my master thesis which takes 1 year. To that I am actually slightly looking forward because I can chose a project that is more focused on other things than phyics (hardware or programming for example). 

I think the biggest factor for me is also that competition is my primary motivation to study and if I am taking a course alone I just dont really develope the motivation I need to push through long studying sessions. When I study with friends I could probably study for a whole night because it just provides me with so much energy and motivation. I also am just more motivated to perform well when I take a course with friends. Thats why Iam making sure to not be alone in any of my courses so I can make the best of this semester. I mean I really dont care too much about the courses so this seems like a good choice. 

Its also such a weird feeling when you have had a goal for over a year that you were planning and preparing for and that motivated you and now you know its basically impossible to reach. My self esteem just feels completely crushed. I feel so worthless and the moment and I still dont know what to do about that. Because if I am truly honest with myself I am completely responsible for that. I didnt study enough my systems proved to be weak and I completely underestimated the amount of stress that came from the project I did with a friend of mine. We later found out that you are not supposed to do those during the semester but then it was already too late. But too be honest I feel like I am also just very unlucky. Because the project we did turned out to be one of the hardest and longest by far while the one that my friends did took them like 2 weeks we were working on ours for about 2-3 months and in the end our grade was worse than theirs even though we sacrificed so much more and put so much more time and energy in to it.

I am also feeling like I am becoming a bit of bitter person. I will watch my mental health in the next two weeks and if I feel like its declining any further I will probably go a therapist. I do think that I will recover though once I got my shit together. 

I really feel like I am benefitting from posting here though. Even if its not about gaming its kind of nice to just get those thougts and feelings out of my system. I know life will get better if I put in the work. I will get some wins here and there and will find a way to get back on top. I am not gonna let this phase get me down. I am stronger than that. And if I am not stronger than I will get stronger.

Edited by dirac
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Today I felt much better. I was very productive. I just kept on working on things I had on my list and didnt waste basically any time. I realised that I can still get the perfect grade master if I completely ace this semester and get a perfect grade in every course and I will do everything in my power to do so. This is the last semester ever where I have courses. After this I will write my thesis so Im gonna give it my all one last time. This semester will decide whether or not I will fulfill my goal of a perfect master and I believe I can do it. I will work harder than I ever did before. I will do it. I will make up for the sorry excuse of workethic in the past months and go all in. Im really excited but not in a quick burst of motivation way that usually decays in a couple of days. What I am feeling right now seems to be deeper, more like a fully accepted commitment. 

I will go to university tomorrow and get a book for every course that I can read as additional material. I will also work 2-3 hours on my job as a research assitant, finish a paper that I started reading yesterday and read a new one. I will also workout tomorrow. 

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Today was really great. I didnt waste any time on nonsense and did basically everything I wanted to do. Except of getting those books at university because due to covid the library is not open on saturdays. Well I guess I will just get them next week when I have time. But again today was really great. I finished reading a paper which took me till 10:15pm and I usually never do productive stuff this late. But I told myself I will finish it today and I commited to it. I also did a nice workout at home und did some work.

Today I thougt a lot about something a friend said to me a couple of days ago. We talked about motivation and usefulness of the courses we are taking at the moment and he said that I cant just choose and value everything depending on how useful I consider it to be for me later in life. And I think hes completely right. This is a bad metric to adopt because it kind of means you are living in the future instead of the present. I also came to the conclusion that to lead a somewhat sucessful life you need to focus on what you are doing right now, on the roles you have to play right now and not worry too much about later. I mean I dont really know what I want to do later anyways and how would I. I never worked in robotics or had my own company or was the ceo of a bank or whatever. How on earth would I know what I like to do without ever having worked. Of course I want a good life later and success in many areas but there are many ways to get there and I think the best thing I can do is to do what is on my plate one day at a time. And if I do well at what I do, opportunities will come. 

I lately watched a video of someone saying to be successful you have to do everthing as good as you can, as quickly as you can and as soon as you can. I think that is a very powerful mindset that I am adopting right now. 

Tomorrow I will workout again, do some more work for my job and read some more papers on dark matter for my presentation. I will also have a chill morning with my girlfriend and some nice breakfast because its sunday 🙂

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Today was really nice. My girlfriend and I decided that it might be necessary to have one uni free day per week and that sunday makes sense. So I did the bare minimum (read two short papers) and had a nice workout. So half the day I still spend productively and the rest I was just doing what I felt like. This recharged me quite a lot I have to say. 

Tomorrow will be the first day of the new semester. Its my last semester ever where I will be attending courses. Its my highest priority to give it all I have one last time for the next 3-4 months. I will lay out some ground rules and make a plan tomorrow night that will govern the next semester.

Some of them I already made up my mind about. For example I will adopt the mantra that I mentioned yesterday: do everything as soon as you can as quickly as you can and as good as you can. I will also say goodbye to my entitlement to pleasure. Life isnt supposed to be easy and suffering will be part of this semester. There will be many days where I wake up feeling bad and/or unmotivated but I will still push through. If I rely on motivation to do well it will be just as much of disaster as last semester because it doesnt matter how much you enjoy stuff its always gonna be hard to do the right things (and not play games all day instead). Dealing with feelings of discomfort will be a major theme.

I will also make sure to summarize every lecture right away and will make sure to study those summaries regularly during the semester. I will make those summaries even if the script is good and even if I feel like "its unnecessary". As I previously mentioned I will adopt sunday as a free day from now on so I will make sure to work extra hard on all the other days so I can afford it. 

Cant wait to get up tomorrow 🙂

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Hey @dirac

it seems like you are going through some emotional hardship right now. The bad exam seems to be wake-up call for you.  It is great that you have a goal and are working towards it. To put it frankly: It pissed you off to fail, and now you are acting to get better results next time. This is a good use of that emotional energy.

But there are a few thoughts/questions which come from my outside perspective and which are maybe useful for you:

  1. Did you plan for the times were you don't feel like doing the things you mentioned (despite pushing through)?
  2. Did you specify when (after what event) and where (at your desk? At what folder? With what program?) you'll do these summaries and homework?
  3. How do you plan to care for yourself to endure that challenge in regard to relationships, food, water and sleep?
  4. Do you feel like you deserve that envisioned success?
  5. Do you feel still self-worthy even if you fail to meet your standards of productivity? Why is this the case? Why not?

These questions are just some railways which you could use to guide your way a bit. In my personal experience my performance gets diminished the most if I didn't sleep, eat (well), drink enough or going through some emotional pains / stresses.


 

 

 

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@WorkInProgress Hey thanks for the input! Sleep and healthy eating is something I always priortize because I know what happens if I dont. I tend to workout between 3-5 times a week and I make sure to get about 8 hours of sleep per night.

I feel like its less about pushing through when feeling bad but just accepting that I feel bad and doing things anyways. Im not seeing myself as a super athlete who feels bad but still motivates himself to do the workout but more like a mother that has to take care of her child even if she would rather watch television. Because its something I have been struggling with all my life, that as soon as I dont feel "perfect" (mentally and physically healthy) I would drop everything or push things ahead and tell myself stuff like "ah I cant really concentrate anyways I will just do it when I feel better" or "its ok to play dota all day today because I was productive yesterday".

My posts might seem a bit like I want to drill sergeant myself into productivity but its not at all like that. Its more that I finally understood that to grow (up) as a person I need to be able to deal better with discomfort and be more consistent in my efforts. So far I oscillated between being productive and playing dota for half a day and doing the absolute minimum. This semester the big goal is consistency. 

To specify a time and place for my summaries I would need to get a bit of an Idea how my timetable will look like because there are many uncertainties at the moment. Especially because my presentation in early may is the main focus now, for now I will do it either friday or saturday where I dont have any lectures or seminars (yet). 

Today was great, I had my first astro particle physics lecture and the professor seems pretty nice. I also read papers for my presentation the entire day and I feel like I read more in the past 3 days than in the past semester. Im gonna make sure to get the best possible start this semester, so tomorrow I will finish reading up on the literature for my presentation. Im also excited for my first statistics lecture and I might even be able to sneak in a bit of work for my research job. The weather is not looking too good but I might go for a jog or a homeworkout tomorrow. I also cant wait for my book to arrive so I can finally start reading it. 

 

 

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Why is gaming a reward and reading not?

Yesterday was also quite a good day. I was very productive during the day, even went for a run in between. Something interesting happened at night though. Because I know that a certain degree of balance is important to be able to keep productivity up in the long term, I decided to have about 60 minutes for myself every night where I can basically do whatever I want to wind dow (also gaming), because otherwise I have trouble falling asleep. Yesterday I wanted to finish my day off with reading a chapter from a book but I only read half the chapter and stopped because I wanted to game a little. This was fine in theory because it was those 60 minutes I wanted for myself. But the gaming actually didnt really gave me that much and I wish I had just finished the chapter instead. 

This made me think a little about why we seem to value things like gaming so much and kind of elevate the pleasure we get from them in our minds. Why arent we doing this with reading or something? I genuinely enjoyed the reading more than the gaming last night but in my mind I feel like the gaming is more of a reward and the reading more of a task that I have to do. I wonder if I could find a way to actually turn reading into some sort of a reward for my brain. Maybe by not putting it into my to do list and changing the way I think about reading consciously, by telling myself stuff like "if you finish all those chores you can read tonight" or "you can only read if you do x and y". Maybe sweets and gaming and all that stuff are just so pulling because we treat them as such. Maybe the hierarchy in our minds does not come from dopamine only but also from how we view those things.

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3 hours ago, dirac said:

Why is gaming a reward and reading not?

It's not just our own minds or habits that account for this, but the technological and economic systems in which we are entangled. In my lifetime (just over half a century) the number of things in my surroundings designed to draw my attention and reward my distraction with a hit of dopamine has increased exponentially. Television and radio laid the foundation, but the Internet and smart phones have made distraction-junkies of us all.

Even when we look for "news" or try to learn about something online, we are only skimming for information, for little particles of "fact" that may be gathered quickly and painlessly - or entertainingly or distractingly, for that little dopamine hit - so that we never really engage fully with a text.

So hyped up on distraction, is it any wonder it can be so difficult to sit quietly, alone, in silence, and to still your mind long enough to sink into a story as it unfolds slowly across the pages of a book, or grapple with an unfamiliar point of view, or scrutinize a line of argument? Reading for understanding takes real effort; it is entirely unlike skimming a Wikipedia entry or the first paragraph of a news story.

And we've all be conditioned to avoid such effort.

I mean, I'm supposed to be reading and writing for a living, and getting students to learn how to read for understanding, so I should know this stuff, but those things became almost painful to me when I was spending so much time gaming. Quitting gaming and cutting down my time online generally has restored to me the ability to pay attention, to sit quietly with a even a very difficult book and work through it.

___

One more thought (added later): One thing you might do for yourself is to set aside 60 minutes in which reading is the only thing you're allowed to do. Also, if this is winding down to sleep, having a "screen curfew" can help with that; I've been trying to have all screens off by 9pm, though I'm not yet consistent on that. Any screen exposure just before bedtime will disrupt your sleep; that's just a matter of neurology!

Edited by Zeno
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11 hours ago, Zeno said:

So hyped up on distraction, is it any wonder it can be so difficult to sit quietly, alone, in silence, and to still your mind long enough to sink into a story as it unfolds slowly across the pages of a book, or grapple with an unfamiliar point of view, or scrutinize a line of argument? Reading for understanding takes real effort; it is entirely unlike skimming a Wikipedia entry or the first paragraph of a news story.

Thats a great statement I have to say, I can really relate to that. Its very true, reading for understanding does take a lot of effort and I catch myself all the time just skimming through articles or even scrolling down real quick to check how long it is before even starting to read it. I never really broke down reading like this. This is a very good point, that its not only producing less dopamine but that we also have to put in an effort into it. 

I think I will also try having this screen curfew, I have always been a bit confused when to read. Should I do it before gaming, instead of gaming, in the morning, before going to bed? What I tried last was to tell myself to read 1 chapter and then I can game, but this just made the reading rather stressful because I just wanted to be done with it so I could game. 

I never really tried reading in the 1-2 hours before sleeping because I only read non fiction and I am "scared" it might prevent me from sleeping or I might just be too tired for it. But I guess in combination with the screen curfew this might be worth a try.

 

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Today I also realised that I really need a plan, in a time table manner, because otherwise I will be confused many times during the day about what exactly to do now. Simply having a to do list doesnt imply any sense of hierarchy and I will still have to decide what to do next and I find this a bit crippling, because quite often I will start a task for 5 minutes and stop because I fell like I should rather do that other thing on my to do list. 

For tomorrow I already made a very thorough calendar. Of course the problems with calendars is that its hard to estimate time slots for everything but its still better than the confusing alternative of not knowing what to do when.

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Today was really amazing. I planned my day yesterday and it went much better, I didnt idle around so much thinking about what to do next, I just worked through my schedule on my google calendar and achieved everything I wanted to. All in all it was a really good day. I also felt really good about myself today. I feel like living a productive life where I can be proud about my performance just elevates my happyness levels to sort of a new normal. I dont really have any highs or rushes in that regard I just feel good about myself and how I spend my time.

I already made my plan for tomorrow. Lets see if tomorrow can be another amazing day!

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It can indeed! Another really good day. I didnt game I was productive all day, took a walk in between and did pretty well altogether. I spend my evening reading which was also nice. I am also kind of proud how I handled a little "incident" today where our food storage cupboard basically collapsed with all our food in it. I took out the food, deconstructed it and didnt even get mad about it. My girlfriend went to the store and got some parts and I fixed it shortly after and now its more stable than ever. 

Today I thougt quite a lot about poverty. I watched a video from a german finance youtuber about it, talking about what problems "poor people" are facing. It was about not getting loans, only getting bad deals on credit cards, lower quality health insurance, higher risks to get sick, less time because they can not outsource and so on. I also watched some other things and read something about it and I never realized how bad poverty is. I was thinking about it especially because I consider myself quite poor as I am a university student. The big difference is though that as a student I have a very different place in society and a respectable identity and my live is basically filled with opportunity and potential. I feel like I got a bit more of an understanding of the concept of poverty altogether because its obviously not just about money. And also about how difficult it must be to get out of it once it grasped you. 

Well tomorrow is gonna be a less productive day because my parents are coming over and we need to clean the flat before that (was about time anyways). So the first 2/3 of the day I wont be able to do anything for university I suppose. But thats fine I will still get some important work done and this week went amazing so far.  

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Today was a good day but not a productive one I suppose. My family came to visit, so I spend the entire morning with cleaning the flat and they stayed here till the late afternoon. Then I worked on exercises with a friend for two hours and then the day was basically over. I could definitely wind down a bit and enjoyed myself today. Tomorrow i will make sure to put in some work though.

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Today was the first (and therefore the only) not so good day this week. I wasnt very productive yesterday so I wanted to make up for it today but I ended up being very unproductive and instead gaming and feeling guilty and bad about it.

I dug a little bit deeper into myself trying to understand why I felt so bad today. I think its because I feel like I am underperforming in my research assistant job at the moment. I have had this job for about half a year now and it went quite well in general I have to say. But I am working on a new project since 2 weeks and nothing works so far. I am basically just going from one error to another and feel like there is a lot of inconsistency like sometimes my code works and sometimes it doesnt even though I didnt make any changes. This makes me feel frustrated and powerless at times and demotivates me. Today for example I worked on something for 1 hour and everything was fine and then it suddenly stopped working and I just couldnt fix it. Later I found out that one of the oscilloscopes at the experiment just happened to freeze up so my code couldnt talk to it anymore. 

This week I basically pushed all the hours of my job onto the weekend because I just didnt want to do it. Which kind of destroyed my weekend. I also notice that this demotivation that comes from the job also streches to other areas which makes it even more important to deal with it. When I played video games today I didnt do that because I wanted to play but just because I felt so bad about my job that I didnt want to work but also didnt want to do anything else.... I decided the best way to fix it is to make sure I do my hours in the beginning of the week so I can get a headstart and start my week motivated. This will also enable me to have a more enjoyable weekend. This week is a good week to start with this because half my hours this week I can spend in the lab which doesnt take me any motivation.

Apart from that I want to make sure my week gets atleast as good as last week. I want to make sure I dont fall behind after having a good week but continue to push hard and do well. I have a presentation in two weeks which will take quite some work so I have to make sure I do alot for it this week.

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Today was great! I was super productive and also had a bit of a break through (more of a personal one) in my research job which made me very happy as my previous performance made me feel a little inadequate. I also managed to finish up something for a course that I thougt would take me till wednesday. I also worked out and went on a walk and read a bit in the evening. 

This day was literally a 100 day. I feel like using the google calendar has been a game changer. I mean I always used to note appointments and as a timetable for my courses but since last week I have been putting in everything else, like what to work on for how long and when and its been amazing. I dont have any weird idle moments where I am confused what to do and it just so much easier to work on my courses when its already been decided and written down in the calendar. 

I am very surprised about how good it makes me feel to be doing well in university and my job and just not wasting my time on netflix or gaming. I feel genuinely good about myself and feel hopeful for the future. I always thougt that I am just so self critical that I would always feel somewhat inadequate or atleast like I could do more. But maybe that was just because I could indeed do more. But the way I am working right now I really feel like I am at my best ever. 

Lets make tomorrow another 100 day.

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