Academia: A Tormenting Taboo

With this dissertation, we would like to raise our voices for a very common disorder on which rests an unspeakable taboo: Academia. This Intellectually Transmittable Disease (ITD) is relatively unknown, but affects many of us, as it is easily transmitted via prolonged contact with nerds. An open day might already be sufficient to contaminate the outside world, but thanks to our UCR bubble, incidence is extremely high here. This means that you or your beloved might have it, too. Allow us to briefly explain what this very particular disorder entails:


  1. Stage One: Procrastination
    During this stage, you constantly feel the pressure to, at any cost, avoid academic work. This means that, at some point, you will suddenly find yourself watching (seemingly) arbitrary YouTube videos ( Jean’s Vegetable Workout), taking (seemingly) arbitrary BuzzFeed quizzes (What kind of potato are you?) or texting (seemingly) arbitrary people. This, dear reader, is what we call procrastination. An inherent urge masters itself of the sufferer, forcing you to waste time like water, save for the handful that you think to need for a foot long essay. This, of course, is naive, as you will realise soon enough that many things can happen in half a day –– such as binge-watching a Netflix series, proposing and saying the wedding vows, overtaking Rome –– but not the writing of a 2000-word opus. After this dawning realisation, you subconsciously enter stage two: denial of such procrastination.


  1. Stage Two: Denial
    Key to this second stage is the slippery slope of faux-productivity and the utter denial of the fact that procrastination has indeed come upon yourself. Procrastination? Everyone but me. You might defend yourself increasingly often by arguing things along the line of “But I have been productive! All my socks are ironed and colour-sorted!” Indeed, doing a pile of dishes would under many circumstances be considered productive, but not when many more pressing matters should be dealt with (still 1880 words to go…)


  • Stage Three: Anger
    Towards the end of stage two, you will have to face reality and admit that there, indeed, is a problem. However, instead of subtle defence, you end up suddenly fighting a losing battle against the natural tendency to evade your duties. The boundaries of human weakness are discovered and relatively quickly it becomes apparent that yes, you, too, are subject to your mere humanity. It is by then impossible to study without experiencing blazing anger, indignation or blatant aggression. This manifests itself in either profound unproductivity (bye colour-sorted socks) or furious, rapid-fire typing in a final, desperate attempt to meet that dreaded deadline. Result: an inevitable downward spiral towards self-destruction.


  1. Stage Four: Imminent Psychological Death
    Typical for this stage is the decline in cognitive functioning and desire to live the life of an academic, resulting in plummeting grades, deteriorating friendships, and a disturbed circadian rhythm. In other words: you are on the verge of fading from the surface of the earth –– physically still there, but psychologically a mere imprint of your past self. One day you might wake up, only to realise that your soul is long past its expiration date. Nothing can save you at this point, except perhaps… enlightenment?
  2. Stage Five: Enlightenment – Lost To The Public Eye
    This is where all becomes speculation, because those who got this far never came back to report their observations. Is it an extension of the divide of mind and body that sets free limitless genius? Did the great academics before us experience this enlightenment as punishment or reward for fighting until the dire end? Whatever the outcome, we feel that, considering the previous stages, it is not a direction worth pursuing. If ever you find out what comes after Stage Four, please, step up and raise your voice to better the world by spreading awareness. After all, awareness is the first step towards change. But perhaps we ought to target the root of the problem first: to study or not to study? Now, that’s a question…

Julianne van Meerten & Eric Schoute, halfway through semester six and Stage Four.

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