As many of my friends are aware, I ‘have a degree in Music’ from the Canadian university I attended before coming to Leicester. We’ll get to that.
In law, we get the rare treat of being able to selectively revise for our exams. Naturally, it’s not recommended, but it’s the most strategic way to learn all the content we possibly need to do well on our exams. So, during revision period, it’s easy to fall into the habit of taking the easy way out and just studying the ‘easiest’ topics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for exams, but this habit could easily translate into all other aspects of your life. And, before you know it, you’ll be constantly asking yourself, ‘what’s the easiest way to do it?’. Well, I have some qualms about that.
Imagine you’re in an Ikea store (please see above). You decide to take all the shortcuts so you can get out faster, because after all, they put the shortcuts in there for a reason. Now, you’ve gone through the store and you’re in the checkout queue. You look to your right and you see someone holding this really cool rug, and you think to yourself, ‘wow, that’s a really cool rug’, but you don’t think much more of it. Then, you look to your left, and you see someone holding a really cool lamp, and you think to yourself, ‘wow, that’s a really cool lamp’, but you let it go. Then you go home, and you realise how cool a really cool rug and a really cool lamp would look in your bedroom, and you realise that by taking the shortcuts in Ikea, you missed out on really cool stuff.
Now, I am very aware that this isn’t the best analogy, but don’t judge me. I also realise that this is sort of an abstract and quite unrealistic analogy, so let me explain what I’m trying to get at using a real-life scenario. STORY TIME!
When I did my first degree, I dabbled in a lot of programs of study. In first year, as all first-years did at my uni, I majored in General Arts (a nice way of saying we were ‘undeclared’), so I took intro modules in Economics, Politics, and Philosophy, as well as Opera, and French. In second year, we had to declare a major and I wanted to major in Philosophy, because my ultimate goal was to go to law school, and it was a relevant course, and I really didn’t want to major in Politics. Alas, my grades didn’t fare (aka they weren’t good enough), so I opted instead to study Economics, but ultimately changed my mind and chose Gender Studies.
So, in my second year of uni, I took a mix of Gender Studies modules and a random selection of modules that (I now realise) were really just there to fill up my timetable; these included Intro to Psychology, Intro to Human Geography, Intro to English Literature, Ancient Humour, French, Philosophy, and Music. I know – I have no idea what I was thinking, either!
When second year was over, I realised that I didn’t like Gender Studies. Or French. Or Philosophy. Or Psychology. Or Geography. So, for third year, I opted to major in English Literature and minor in Music (Voice), which were both things I was good at and interested in, and for the first time in my degree, I was happy with my choices. I enjoyed studying English Lit and Music, but I was going through a rough patch, so the majority of my marks were just straight-up terrible. Then, in second term of my third year, I found Leicester Law. I knew I wasn’t getting into Canadian law schools with my terrible marks, so I applied and was accepted with my high school marks, which (luckily) were good enough. Go, past Lucie!
When I started studying Law at Leicester, I started comparing it to studying English Lit and came to the sudden realisation I didn’t actually enjoy studying English Lit as much as I thought I did. And, I never fully immersed myself in studying Music because I thought I wasn’t good enough at it to study it. But looking back, I now realise that my mindset was completely backwards – I wasn’t good at it because I didn’t bother studying it in depth. I never realised that I had to work hard to be smart until I was 5 years into my university career. I always thought that I would be good at something, so if I liked taking the modules, I would just be naturally good at them without having to work too hard. I was constantly trying to find the easiest way to get a degree, and I never even realised it until now.
I tell people that my previous degree was in Music, because that’s the only way I can graduate; I did enough Music credits throughout my confusing degree to graduate with a Bachelors (as opposed to an Honours Bachelors, which is the default degree in Canada and is 4 years long). But, don’t be fooled, I don’t know nearly enough about music to really call myself a Music graduate. In truth, I’m counting down the days until I graduate with my law degree so I don’t have to talk about the Other One.
So, in essence, if you keep taking shortcuts in life, you’ll miss out on some really cool stuff, and you won’t be able to grow as a person – you’ll simply plateau. We learn a lot from getting through tough times because we come out stronger and knowing more or knowing better. If life tests you and you pass, you’ve undoubtedly taken a step forward in whatever aspect of life it has affected. If life tests you and you fail, you’ve still taken a step forward because you’ve learned from it.
It is pretty hard to admit all of this and put it all out there, but do not do what I did. I failed life’s test and now I’ve learned, and I know much better than to take the easy way out. Don’t fall into the pattern of constantly trying to find the easy way out. Never ask yourself, ‘what’s the easiest way out of this?’, instead ask yourself, ‘how can I tackle this?’ and believe in yourself that you can do it.