Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel almost suffocated by the weight of things you don’t know? I feel like I’ve been in the middle of one for the past few months. I’ve just finished my degree (I graduate the day after tomorrow) and I’m about to start my MA, yet I honestly think I knew a lot more heading into my undergrad than I do now. Even worse, I can’t help but feel that I’m skating by in life and that one day I’ll be revealed for being a massive pretender that really hasn’t got a clue.
I know bits and bobs about current affairs, politics, pop culture, the arts etc, (at least, I think I know bits and bobs, that could be me being generous to myself) and have loads of little things and pieces of ideas that I want to write about but freeze in terror any time that blank page in Word appears in front of my eyes. I haven’t read half as many books as I should have, have watched more sugary-sweet rom-coms than any sane person should ever admit to, and have a head so full of half-baked ideas it resembles the worktop of an unfortunate MasterChef contestant. As a result I have become a master informed bullshitter- give me half a statistic and I’ll give you an entire argument, but surely that means that one day I’m going to get caught out? What’s got this all going in my head is the prospect of starting my MA. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to begin and I’m so excited, but I’m also slightly terrified that I’m going to sit mute in the corner while all the brilliant, brainy people argue articulately and eloquently about the great, beautiful, misery-inducing, repression-and-depression filled, journey into alcoholism that is Irish Literature. While they’re there arguing out perfectly composed insights into the minds of geniuses I’ll sit twiddling my thumbs wondering how to get onto the next level in Candy Crush. Or maybe Angry Birds, if I really feel like testing myself.
Ok ok, maybe this is all a bit premature and I’m overindulging in self pity, but it’s also a genuine fear of mine. I know it’s quite a petty fear seeing as there are people out there genuinely fearing for their lives, but, as Honey Boo Boo’s Mama always says: “It is what it is”. I can’t help it. I’ve spent years putting on this façade of Knowing Quite A Lot when my interior resembles a darling portrait entitled Knowing Fuck All. Or at least I think it’s a façade, maybe I do know a substantial amount but it’s the fear of not knowing enough that has driven the not-knowing-enough to be my own little distorted reality. So I could be living in a hyper-reality, not-so-blissfully unaware of the real reality that lingers just beyond the void. Hmmm….this is getting a bit to Baudrillard for my tastes.
Then again, I’m only 20 so I’m too old to think I know everything (oh, sweet teenage years) and too young to actually know enough. This is the decade in which I’m meant to start learning the stuff I’ll need and call on for the rest of my life, when I’m supposed to make all the stupid mistakes that help me learn (I don’t know about the rest of ye, but I find I only actually learn something after doing the wrong thing 4 times), and decide exactly what I want to know. I can’t know everything, that’d only put the rest of ye to shame. Though I could totes learn everything really easily. Mandarin, experimental physics, rocket science, how they get the fig in the Fig Roll. Totes. No Bodge. Ahem.
So maybe I’ll designate the coming year as the Year I Get My Shit Together. I’ll read all the books on my MA book list and a lot more besides, actually sit up and argue in class and outside (minus a bottle of wine in hand, which is how all my arguments seem to go so far), watch documentaries for the sake of them and learning something from them, not just because I love David Attenborough’s voice and want to do bad things to certain Mr. Theroux, and actually read the papers instead of idly flicking through the headlines before torpedoing my way to the culture section and the cartoons at the back. Then maybe this time next year I’ll know even a tiny bit more than I do now. And even if all I emerge with on the other side is the knowledge of where I can locate the cheapest bottle of drinkable wine, sure isn’t that learning something?