Gratitude in hard times

Hello again cyber-buddies,

Week 11 and we’re still afloat! Well done team.

I really appreciate all the people taking time not only to read my self-indulgent whiny-poos, but commenting with words of empathy, encouragement and even solidarity.

We shall rise together yet Mature-ies – We shall rise!

I must say I’m perplexed as to why this semester had been such a drag for me. I happen to be lucky enough to have such a wonderful, supportive partner who encourages me to get my learning on, as well as being fortunate enough collectively to afford me cutting back to part-time work so I can manage my full-time study load better (I took advise from the orientation hand-out designed for Mature Aged Students entitled “Be kind to yourself”).

In comparison to Semester One, 2011 when I was doing 4 subjects and working anywhere between 40 – 80 hours a week (I am neither lying nor exaggerating) and throwing back Tequila Mules at work (it was the music industry…) just to keep myself sane – you’d think this new pace would be a leisurely cart ride on a bed of fairy floss for me, wouldn’t you?

But oddly enough, as my external pressures decreased, so did my propensity to apply myself at uni! I can’t quite put my finger on it. To start with, the fairy floss has melted and now it’s just all sticky and itchy and attracting ants. So let’s wash that off and see if that makes a difference…

Seeing as you’re all in my circle of trust, that and I know that the 3 people under 21 reading would like some tips from an elder who’s been around the block – and any Creative Industry students reading – take note of this equation below:

40 – 80 hour a week workload + uni + tequila = Breakdown + Data Analysis exam failure.

Yeah, sorry, no funny punchline. That’s just what happened.

Inspired by one of the comments on a previous blog, I was congratulated for talking about the ‘tough stuff’, and I do believe it is important to use these platforms as a means for support for each other, so in that spirit I am disclosing my own experience with Depression.

I raise this because I would like you to know that I sought support from the QUT Counselling Service and it could not have been a more positive experience for me. I was lucky to be matched with a counsellor perfect for me, and she helped me not only work through my study concerns and obstacles, but my Depression. I highly recommend it for anyone having a tough time, no matter the circumstances.

If you are battling anything from procrastination to addiction to a toxic relationship to uncertainty about your course or career to a mood disorder to discrimination – there is no problem too big or too small. Don’t think your problems aren’t worth talking about – they absolutely are.

Along with the help of QUT counselling service, I wanted to shift my focus from despair to gratitude, as I believe the key is to find gratitude in what you have, and everything will get easier from there.

Watching Oprah’s Lifeclass, I saw an incredible story on a woman name Tererai Trent, who overcame poverty, adversity, abuse and oppression as a Zimbabwean woman to get her PhD in the USA a few years later.

I also learned about George Dawson, an incredible African American man born in to slavery who was illiterate until he was 98, when he decided to learn to read and write. He went on be awarded two honorary university degrees and had a school named after him before his death at age 103.

What I am taking from these stories to help motivate through my degree is that here in Australia we are so blessed and lucky that we often take it for granted. Education is everything, and we have access to it laid at our feet in this country, in this era. Yet we see the workload and challenges associated with university education as such a burden (and I am up there with the worst of offenders – just read my previous whingy blogs!) when there are millions of people all over the world who would give anything for the opportunity just to be allowed to sit in a classroom.

Knowledge is power, they say. So, all of us fortunate enough to be part of the university community have the power to channel that into a place of gratitude and motivate ourselves to make the most of it, so those who can’t – be it for political, economic or cultural beliefs around gender roles, can at least be honoured by those who do have access to it, appreciating it.

As soon as I realised this, my approach to uni shifted, and I became a lot more willing to get stuck in and do the best I could.

So, now I have my counselling and my gratitude, it’s smooth sailing from here! Right? 🙂

8 responses

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  1. avatar
    yvonne mukauskas

    Hey Monique,
    Thanks a mill, for your words of wisdom…I’m a mum, 2 young kids, hubby that works heaps & very little time to juggle the lot around & yes I have definately been prone to quite alot of whinging lately…however, you’re story has inspired me to put up & shut up!!! and just get on with it..I know it will be worth it in the end 😉

    • avatar

      Hi Yvonne,

      You definitely have it tougher than me. Bless the mother-students I say!

      Thank you for your kind words. I hope your study is a positive experience for you, and yes we will all be proud of what we’ve achieved at the end!

  2. avatar

    Thanks so much for you posts Monique. I’m also a mature age student who just started Uni and have been wrestling with bouts of depression due to feeling overwhelmed and under qualified to handle the work load and demands. But I’m soldiering on and really appreciate reading about someone else who is going through similar things.

    • avatar

      Hi Anon,

      I’m glad it is helpful. Much as I suspect I’m not the only one and things are always less daunting when you know that! As far as the study goes, we are qualified, just ina different way, and often the first semester or even first year is all about learning how to learn, how to do things a particular way, and generally working the place out. Don’t be hard on yourself – and find someone you’re comfortable tallking to. Before we know it, it’ll be graduation day!

      Take it easy,

  3. avatar

    Love your bloggin’! A brilliant insight into the plight of the more “worldly” and “experienced” of QUT’s student population 🙂

    • avatar

      Thanks Hayley! These compliments are welcomed and appreciated! 🙂

  4. avatar

    nice blog Monique

  5. avatar

    Intersting insight Monique. I also admit that I take my fortunate position in this eclectic world for granted… though that is more often than not due to my sporadic yet severe depression. It’s good to see someone talking the time (and having the balls) to talk about mental health. It’s a truly challenging, often crippling and deceptive condition that plagues so many of us, yet very few actually discuss it.
    So thank you,
    A not so mature aged student.

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