I get a lot of depressing questions about studying. These are some of the hardest questions to respond to:
I’ve really been trying to get my grades up. I’m going to be a senior soon and I’m hoping that increasing my grades can get me into a better college. I just can’t seem to get myself disciplined enough to study. I want to but it’s kind of like I don’t really care anymore. I feel like improving my grade isn’t even worth it.
This is a ridiculously complicated question. Instead of answering it directly, I’m going to try to give you the tools to figure it out yourself. Most of this is just me using my own personal experience and trying to make sense of how I solved similar situations.
Emotions are a huge part of behavior. If you don’t like studying then that objectively hurts your ability to study. Just having that inkling of thought is a major distraction. Even if you could physically force yourself into doing it despite your preferences, that might not be worth it.
Human emotion is a tool but it’s a very imprecise one. When you’re able to align your emotions with your actions, or your actions with your emotions, you do better. Human emotions can be trained Pavlovian style but they’re always working and retooling their associations back to what’s beneficial for their day to day lives.
If you feel like improving your grade isn’t worth the cost then consider the possibility that you’re right. Most schools try to push people for better grades to qualify for a better college but unless you’re competing for valedictorian (or close) it will likely have little to no effect on your success in life. (As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, big name colleges are worth it. “Better” but non-recognizable colleges are usually not worth it.)
This is the first thing I try to do when I have some emotion seeming to get in my way. I ask myself if my emotions are making a legitimate point. I could feel sad because a stranger looked at me funny on the bus. That’s a rather silly reason to feel sad. I could feel sad because someone I cared about passed away. That actually makes some sense. If your emotions make sense then let them guide you.
If you happen to be competing for valedictorian and your feeling that it might not be worth it seems irrational to you then you’re getting into complicated territory. The first thing I’d look for is something else that might really be motivating (or demotivating) you.
Emotions are imprecise. Sometimes something depressing in some other aspect of your life can be spilling over into your school work. For example, if you lost a relationship then you might think school is making you down while it’s really just the relationship. Any stupid (or important) little thing could cause dramatic consequences in other areas of your life. If you figure out what that problem is then you can try to solve it.
I personally would recommend therapy to virtually everyone. If you’re really concerned about getting to the bottom of your emotions, it’s a great opportunity to get some guidance. Most people are a little irrational and having someone to talk things over with can help make sense of it.
There is no one solution to this problem but I’ve always found giving myself time to think about it without stressing over it helps clarify where my real concerns are. Often I’m pleasantly surprised to realize my problems aren’t as complicated as I make them feel.
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