Back to school blues: Five ways to overcome reluctance

School’s out from Laura Eades on Vimeo.

Summer is over. God, I loved summer. Cycling, barbecues, friends, flowers, jumping in lakes… I feel very sad to make the transition to autumn. Now, it’s raining, and grammar hangs over me like a dark cloud.

I’m doing a German course, and today I’ve got back-to-school blues after the holiday.

Cccrrkkk! What’s that? The tectonic plates of work and play grinding against each other!

I hate the schizm of holiday ending and ‘real life’ beginning. I even hate it when my husband goes to work on a Monday morning. The feeling shouts at me to rearrange my life so that it’s all fun. Not fun/duty/fun/duty. Not saving holiday for time off. That’s one reason we moved to Berlin – so that we wouldn’t be saving our travelling for retirement. And that what I plan for my work life too.

I just don’t know how. But I’m thinking about it, and how to redesign my life around a permanent holiday vibe.

If this sounds tempting, and you want to read more, here’s where I began, with the backpack at Paidtoexist.com. I really like the ballsy American straightalking of this site. Its galvanising rhetoric. Sometimes that’s just the energy I need to stop feeling like a victim.

How to overcome your reluctance

I might seize hold of my fate in the long run, and plan my escape route. But tomorrow and tomorrow, duty calls. I don’t feel like showing up on my course, but there are advantages. Here’s how to outfox these typical negative thoughts my critical mind throws at me.

  1. I haven’t done my homework. The work you took away in your bag at the end of last year? They were soon forgotten (luckily for your family!!) I’ve done whack all German all summer, despite intentions. My intentions weren’t fair on me, or realistic, they were just a source of guilt. I left it all until the end and then – whoops! this blog seemed more important. Solution: This IS the solution. Enjoy the rebellion. Allow yourself to do the minimum and focus on what you care about
  2. I can’t do it brilliantly, so it’s not worth doing. So I haven’t prepared by getting all next term’s vocab loaded onto a vocab learning cuecards programme like I said I was going to. Was that ever realistic? No. It’s perfectionist thinking. “If I can’t do this perfectly it isn’t worth doing”. Bullsh*t! Learn to do less of the things you’re not passionate about! Let yourself off the hook!)
  3. It’s too challenging. German grammar is hands-down harder than any other language I’ve learnt (I can speak French and Italian). But the payoff is, I like learning stuff and think I got a buzz out of increasing my understanding. Being pushed is good for my confidence. And that rubs off
  4. I’ve forgotten why I’m doing it. Being able to have conversations with people I know! Learning German will make it a lot easier to live my life here! I’ll be able to read books that people I meet at parties have written. I’ll go deeper into the culture I’m living among! When my daughter, who goes to German kindergarten, speaks, I’ll be able to understand her!
  5. I’d rather spend my time writing my novel and blogging. How much would I really do if I had totally open space? Experience tells me I fare badly in unboundaried timeslots, whereas I thrive in a routine. Being on a course helps me structure my day and makes novelling more urgent and I’ll probably waste a lot less time!

But these things help too:

  • Find peripheral things to enjoy. I like my classmates, and they probably haven’t done anything all summer either
  • Have faith. Just go and you’ll start to make the best of it. I was enjoying speaking before summer, so I probably will again
  • Be grateful. I’m very lucky to have a place on the course because it’s right near my house and reasonably priced
  • Reinvest. Get a new exercise book. Make new friends. Relish German words (“shin” is “Spunguling” – how musical is that!??)
  • Plan your escape on the sly. You know what I’m talking about

In the meantime, here’s a little animation I made when the last course finished and summer began. “Ich hasse die kreid” means “I hate chalk”. “Zu schmutzig” means “Too dirty”. And “Urlaub” means “holiday”.

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Any advice or experience below, please in comments. Click on the grey dot with a plus sign on it to open up the comments section.