You can’t always get what you want

03 Jan 2018

My feeling towards education can usually be summarised with Laurie Penny’s saying: ‘Education isn’t a gun held to your head: It’s a weapon in your hands.’ Nevertheless, it appears that not every part of education — even within a subject you initially enjoy — is filling you with never-ending enthusiasm. And sometimes the feeling that comes with part of your studies appears to be very similar to a gun held to your head. Even though you try really hard to get some of the ‘weapon in your hands’ vibes.

I would bet good money on that every student can name at least one course that he or she would describe with a variety of very unkind words of the English language (or any other language for that matter). Everybody has personal university demons. My personal university-demon is Statistics.

I’m not saying the course is horrible in general. But for me, personally, Statistics is cursed. I accidentally kick a vase with water over my desk — the Statistics book is the only thing lying there. I need a ruler for the exam — rulers disappear within a radius of three kilometers around my house. And I wouldn’t be surprised if my calculator would someday spontaneously set itself on fire in the middle of my homework.

Of course it is very easy to demonise something. I have a tendency to demonise Statistics. But demonising is not getting you anywhere. Cursed courses do not exist, simply personal preferences and strengths. And getting aware of those is the key of getting better. So in this context, I often think about the Rolling Stones song You can’t always get what you want. I sometimes want Statistics to disappear out of my life for good. But if you try sometimes, as the following lines of the song are saying, you just might find, you get what you need. And that, in my case, means that I have to face it again.

Is facing your demons easy? Definitely not. But sometimes, facing your demons is necessary. I’m going to face my Statistics course again right at the beginning of this year, and likewise will many other students face their personal Statistics too. The course you once cursed doesn’t have to become your favourite university experience. But it can become a better one if you give it a shot. And, what is the new year good for if not giving shots and facing old demons? And with this thought in mind: bring on the Standard Deviations as if there would be no tomorrow. Because I am ready.

Every two weeks, Antonia will add the songs she writes about to the Spotify playlist below. This way, she creates a soundtrack to her time in Nijmegen. Click left and right for more songs.

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