Prologue: I don’t really know why I’m posting this here. This is more a conversation with my conscience than anything else. Most people will probably gain nothing from reading what I’m about to say, but perhaps will afterwards view me in a more negative light. So be it. I no longer have an ego (not that I ever had much of one to begin with).
Spring 2011: I’m ashamed of myself.
In this term, I did not eat or sleep properly, became unhealthy overall, and made some of the worst decisions of my life. It has taken me until now to realize it. Early in the term, I lied to myself that my workload was too heavy, and contemplated dropping my major in computer science, for the reason that I “could not learn it”, citing the fact that it involved too much memorization of arbitrary details. I then proceeded to drop two of the three second-year CS courses I was taking (CS 240 and CS 251). Even with such a laid-back, 3-course schedule, I still managed to flunk Complex Analysis, a critical pure math course.
What the hell is wrong with me?
Luckily, I did not drop computer science, but I was on the verge of doing so, and probably would have gone through with it had it not been for some life-saving intervention. It seems like the list of people to whom I owe a lifetime of debt just keeps on growing. My thoughts about dropping CS were completely unjustified, and I will detail this shortly. As for the course withdrawals, well, it was the best option since the damage had already been done. However, it was entirely my own fault for getting myself into that situation in the first place.
Now to talk about the situation with Complex Analysis. Things were going pretty well, but after accidentally sleeping through a few classes near the middle of the term and not putting forth a decent effort to catch up, I became little more than a note-scribbling machine, and as the end of the term approached, the gaps in my understanding multiplied. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of material, and could not focus properly on trying to take it one step at a time. In a sense, I felt a resignation deep within, although whenever it occurred to me that something was wrong, I stubbornly denied it.
So why did I get myself into a situation where I could no longer deal with those two CS courses? Why did I not put forth a decent effort to catch up in Complex Analysis? The answer is simple: it is my own fault. Let me mention the following. After all the stressful events had precipitated and I dropped those two courses, I re-planned my course sequence for the remaining terms, altering it so that I would only have 4 courses per term (although since I’m sticking around for a few rarely-offered PMATH courses, it wouldn’t affect my convocation date). My justification for this was that “things were getting harder”, and I wouldn’t be able to handle a full workload like I’ve been doing so far. This is garbage. The courses are getting harder, yes, but not by a margin that significant.
What is significant, however, is the rate at which my own psychological condition (and consequently, my own self-discipline and more generally speaking, my own desire to even exist) is deteriorating. I’m not claiming (or making an excuse) that anything is clinically wrong with me, but I have been depressed for a while now, although the reasons for this are far beyond the scope of this post (and furthermore far beyond discussion with anyone I could possibly conceive of). Anyways, this is my own burden, and my problems all stem from the fact that I spend every day of my life hiding from it. It’s become normal for me to usually avoid meeting new people, avoid trying new hobbies or foods, or doing anything else that I’m not used to. I hate this aspect of myself, and I hate how it has been controlling my life. There’s no reason to be like this at all, and certainly no reason to let this stupid thing now start interfering with my studies.
I therefore plan to do nothing less than declare war. I will re-take Complex Analysis if that is what is necessary (and it probably will be), and I will cast away the meaningless and mind-numbing distractions. I’ve let myself down, and I’ve disappointed those who put their faith in my judgment. I can’t even take myself seriously as a mathematician anymore, and it will probably take about a year or two of merciless redemption before I can ever think about myself the same again. There’s also a chance that by failing (or marginally passing) Complex Analysis, I’ve done irreversible damage to my chances at ever getting into graduate school. Well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Right now all I know is that my life has to dramatically change, and I’m going to finish what I came here to do if it kills me.