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The Guilt Factor October 27, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Academically Speaking, Ramblings.

There was a time I could study my heart out with single-minded purpose. I could lock myself up in a room and spend hours on end leafing through notes, poring over readings and working on problems with nary a word of complaint. And I would be driven to do so because I’d want to excel, not simply in the “always do your best” connnotation but rather in the “hit it out of the park!” sense of the word.

Lately, however, I find that I’ve been burning the midnight oil less out of the desire to do things well and more because I fear regret. More precisely, I’ve spent the last few weeks studying hard for a slew of exams for no other reason than knowing that if I goofed around, only to later crash and burn, I’d feel terribly guilty.

Of course, guilt is an excellent motivator and in many instances can lead to quite prudent (some might even say exemplary) behavior. In the finance literature, for instance, there are findings that the fear of potentially huge losses — especially after having had such an experience in the past — is sometimes the only thing that keeps investors from making otherwise risky decisions. Further, some might say that anything that leads to diligence is all well and dandy. Personally, I’d have to disagree. While I am glad that I got the requisite work done, it was a miserable experience on the whole. Better to be a nerd happily studying away than going through the motions for fear of future regret, I say.

Or perhaps I feel this way now that it’s come to my attention I’ve been sleeping with my calculator within reach on my bedside table. But I digress.

Now that the deadlines have passed and the exams are over it appears that my life can revert back to normal. In retrospect, the guilt factor has kept me from getting much exercise, reading any books, playing any games, or writing anything substantial lest I find that the time could have been better spent studying. I hope to remedy this as soon as possible. Really, I should keep in mind how depressing an existence mine has been these past few weeks and try to be less uptight and obsessive the next time the exams start piling up.

I just hope I don’t live to regret it.



1. #223 « BRAIN DRAIN - November 22, 2007

[…] I’ve been known to exhibit obsessive behavior while studying (I seem to recall having a calculator by my bedside throughout that month), but I thought the worst of it was already behind me. That is, until I had a […]

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