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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Persmission To Give Up

Sometimes all you want to do is run. From the task in front of you. From the problems in your life. From other people. From yourself. I can hear the collective sigh of everyone reading. We all feel like running away and giving up sometimes, and the general consensus of the world we live in today is “never ever give up”, because giving up is failing. It is losing face. It is letting ourselves down. It is showing weakness. But is there ever a time when it is okay to just give yourself permission to give something up and let it go?

I had a good talk with my mother last night. Like all mothers, she always knows better even if I think I’m managing to hide how I feel about something. A mother’s intuition I guess. It has been a difficult year, financially and with my studies and trying to take that step into the next chapter of my life, in a nice, easy, smooth glide. But life isn’t about smooth, easy glides from one thing to the next. It is bumpy, often blind, and sometimes scary. I have been to the edge and back a few times. I have crumbled. I have hit some low points this year much lower than I ever believed my circumstances would have warranted and felt so unlike myself I didn’t particularly want to look in the mirror or face the day at all. Crying spells unfortunately featured quite a lot this year.

For the uninitiated, I have invested the better part of four years into my university degree and really am on the cusp of becoming a teacher and leaving the long nights of study and caffeine overdose far far behind me. I have also invested two years into dragging my feet along with my honours thesis, trying to find a way to make it all come together and make sense. I have spent many an hour sitting in front of my laptop staring at the screen, writing 3 sentences, then deleting them, then researching some more, reading, writing another 3 sentences. Delete. It has been the death of me really. The research topic kind of fell into my lap at the start. I wanted to do research in the area of literacy and the use of multiliteracies and popular media in the classroom. So when a professor at the university walked into my research class looking for people interested in doing a literacy based thesis focused on a literacy program called MULTILIT and the perceptions of how effective it was in making gains in academic literacy achievement in one school, it seemed like the stars were sort of aligned.

Until I realised that MULTILIT was an acronym for Making Up For Lost Time In Literacy, and was actually a Direct Instruction based phonics program and nothing to do with Multiliteracies. Still, I thought, it is a topic handed to me on a platter and there is some hands on research in there which is good. It sounds interesting enough. It could work. Then time passed and life’s stresses and the sheer complexity and involved process of applying for ethics approval to conduct research in a school, especially with Indigenous students sent me into flight mode. Eventually the study was reduced to a document study with MULTILIT still as the main focus, but more a genealogical study of literacy instruction. I was a long way from my initial interest in using multimedia, pop culture and technologies to enhance literacy learning and instruction, and I was stalling with it more than ever. After my final practicum turned upside down and left me facing doing it all again with no Austudy payments to support myself, my Thesis became even harder to focus on despite the tiny window of time I had to complete it in. When my laptop recently decided it was time to call it quits and go to computer heaven, I could have given up there and then quite easily. Fortunately my parents did come to my rescue and I have a new laptop for which I am very grateful. Though I can only admit that it did cross my mind that if I didn’t have a computer then I had a good excuse to give up. Still, I kept going.

So the question I am asking myself now, is, is it time to give up? Can I give myself permission now to let it go and move on? Because I no longer qualify for Austudy, I am on unemployment benefits and under massive financial stress. The stress of knowing that time is of the essence and that I need to find work as well is impacting my health. I bemoaned my health issues on Facebook last night and claimed I must have diabetes or be a hyperchondriac. But even on Facebook, where everyone else struggles to know how to interpret things other people have said, mothers can read between the lines immediately. She phoned me and told me I was too stressed, not eating properly and getting thinner (I’d have debated that but weighed myself this morning and found I was 46kg). So after a good talk with my Mum, I think I can finally give myself that permission.

I will give myself one week to make some significant gains on my Thesis and if I can’t, then it is time to say goodbye to the task which has become unenjoyable and not the piece of writing I thought it was going to be. When have you given yourself permission to give up? Do you regret it?

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