What’s gonna happen to me?

Yesterday I came out of my last lecture feeling like I want to split myself open or do something equally horrible. On Monday we established a timetable of priorities for the work we have to do, and we were meant to put up a production schedule up for the group, but for some reason we didn’t do it until before 12:00am before a certain lecture. One of the lecturers seems more insistent about production planning than the others. So when he asked about our production process, and we told him about how we went about with our chart, I feel like he lost his patience with us again because it seemed to him that our group only posted the chart right before he was around, as if simply to satiate him or something. Then I began to feel like it was my fault, mainly for the reason that, as one of the lecturers reasoned, we’re all making the same mistakes we did last semester and not doing the work. I felt very upset, even depressed, because when you say to a group I’m in that you’ve all done wrong in some way, I never really know what *I* did wrong as an individual. Especially because I actually did do some work, and I did try to follow an outlined idea of how work might run down (though I didn’t really succeed in achieving an ideal output of work). That leads me to conclude that, as a group, we all just get treated the same way regardless. Then I start to think that if I had nudged the others about the chart we might not have had this. And I still don’t want to think that way at all because to me it just isn’t right. I don’t ever want to share the same mistakes as everyone else, or be tied to everyone else’s mistakes, not ever. I feel deeply insulted about that, and I get resentful, sad, angry, and probably something else along those lines too.

I’m also beginning to worry not only that I’m not going to handle this semester like I handled the last semester, but that I’m really going to suffer trying to handle this next semester. We’re really expected to just spend more time working, particularly in the university premises (even though we are able to work at home). When I talked about that with my group-mates, one of them told me it’s probably because the lecturers have no way of measuring our actual habits. My worry is I know that we’re all just going to go off and do our own work anyway, myself included, because we all just want to complete our part of the project, and the assignments pertaining to it. My worry is that it’s going to just be so much time working, so little time doing anything else, and I’m not convinced I’m even on top of time management on a personal level. And that’s where I go to the question alluded in the title of the post: what’s going to happen to me after all this? How much time will I have to simply live? Am I just going to work like a machine? Am I going to abandon everything else? That would horrify me and sadden me on a deep level. If I was assured that I was to start operating on a mechanical level in order to succeed in life, I’d either kill myself or spend the rest of my life in the wilderness because that’s just not the way I feel I’m meant to live, let alone how I feel humans as a species are meant to live. Part of me thinks I’m probably overreacting, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking this is going to be one of the worst times I have yet to experience. I also think part of our problems is that I don’t think I or some of the others really know what to say when we’re asked certain questions. We’re not really prepared in some cases, and that in my opinion can cause a lot of problems.

And I think some of you might read this thinking, “if you feel that way then what are you still doing on your course?”. Actually, I kind of feel like there’s no going back with me in my course. If I thought of transferring, I wouldn’t exactly know what to do instead of game design. If I dropped out, then I would prevent myself from making the best of what life as a student could still offer, and I think I’ve still made a decent life with it so far despite it still feeling unfulfilled in important areas. And however I stretch it, if I leave my group, that pretty much means giving more work to spread between what will become a group of 5 people, and we have only 7-8 weeks which is not a sparing amount of time for us to complete our project. If I left, I’d be creating more work for them to do in a small amount of time, and my only thought about it is it will make them very unhappy about their course, and it would make their third year a lot harder and more miserable for them. Even if leaving might make me happy, the rest would have a horrible time and I feel I’d be the cause of it. Despite what I consider to be my selfish nature, I don’t like that thought. But saying that, I also can’t help but consider that if I bail but they continue on and somehow succeed in spite of it, it might inspire a new-found sense of regret and the feeling of amounting to little in comparison to them. Other than that, the only reason I don’t leave the course is because of the life I think I could still make as a student, and some of what I’ve learned about game design clicking with me in a certain way and giving me ideas about what I could do in that field if I made it. So I feel like there’s no escape, no turning back. They only way is to move forward, and even then I now feel there’s an aspect of that which might feel less admirable. Once again, confusion has risen when I thought that I had defeated it or found a way to feel good about what I do. Who knows though? Maybe I’ll feel better as I go along, perhaps actually achieve some of what would be ideal to achieve and move the project forward, and maybe it won’t feel so hard. But mark me when I say that there are some things I can’t live with forever: namely the pressure of dealing with the group and with feeling down because I’m not perfect or do as much as would be ideal. If I find myself continuing to struggle with it and feel miserable, I know I’m not going to survive, and it will probably have a noticeable impact on what I do.


12 responses to “What’s gonna happen to me?

  1. it again seems to come down to the group, the attitudes of tutors to an unsupported group, and the dilemma of being in a group, but having no authority to properly guide it. With this coming up repeatedly, I think your group needs to meet and discuss this as a critical issue. It is clearly a problem (because it is a problem for the tutors), and no one else is going to help you, so the group has to help itself. It sounds like you need, as a group, to get organized in order to give the tutors what they want. It’s no “right” or “wrong”, they (the tutors) just want something of you, and (typically) can’t be bothered to tell you how to achieve it. It’s like they expect you to be able to act as a group, but without any internal structure. The group is going to have to work out how to give them what they want, or else it is just going to keep on happening. The group has to be mature enough to be pragmatic about it – identify what the tutors want to see, agree as a group to provide that (ie commit to each other to do that).

  2. I am going to take apart a paragraph you wrote. Line by line.

    “That leads me to conclude that, as a group, we all just get treated the same way regardless. ”

    That is a most valid conclusion. That is how it works. How can you expect to be treated as an individual when you are in a group? It is the group that produces. If the group doesn’t produce, it fails.

    “Then I start to think that if I had nudged the others about the chart we might not have had this.

    Nudging is not leading. Every group must have a leader.

    “And I still don’t want to think that way at all because to me it just isn’t right. I don’t ever want to share the same mistakes as everyone else, or be tied to everyone else’s mistakes, not ever.

    What you want and what you are going to get are 2 different things. If you don’t want to be tied to others mistakes, or successes, then work as an individual.

    “I feel deeply insulted about that, and I get resentful, sad, angry, and probably something else along those lines too.”

    What results do you expect? I know nothing about game design, but I do know about working as a team. A team must have a leader. Without a leader, it will be a clusterfuck. People will do what they think is right, or they will do nothing and depend on others to produce.

    The root cause to your problems is a lack of leadership, in my opinion. Everyone knows what to do, and they can do it, but there is no coordination.

    • It seems the theme of your commentary seems to mostly draw towards leadership. In answer to that issue, I’m actually not certain if there is a leader or who the leader is if there is one. All I’m certain of is I’m not the leader in a group. Usually the coordination ends up being by the lecturers, and not on a regular basis; just when we’re clearly about to screw up or are already screwing up or not producing. I’m guessing the lecturers don’t like that very much because it leads to the perception that our game project is being run by them rather than the students, which they would prefer.

      • I think that might be the crux of it. They expect your group to organize itself, without help or guidance, but I think Loose Cannon is right, groups need leadership. If your tutors are particualrly trendy they might be expecting some kind of consensual direction to emerge in communal fashion, but that really isn’t how groups work: most people want to show up and be entertained, or sit there and yawn and criticize, and exerting authority and leadership is a skill (though some people have a knack), but there has to be implicit consent. Unless your group recognizes that this is a *necessity*, they have the option of acting like passive aggressive teenagers, and just using other people’s work, moaning and complaining, grudgingly accepting organization while resenting it, etc etc (I remember all this from my nurse training – young adults act like brats in unguided groups, more often than not, so long as they can get away with it). I think the first thing to work on is getting a recognition from the group that they have a problem, and get consent to do something about it

      • I’m surprised the lecturers are allowing this. Or, maybe they are hoping each group will figure it out on their own?

        If something is not working, then you must change it. You and your group can figure out what changes are needed. To overcome, you first have to adapt.

        But get rid of the bad emotions. Take emotions out of it. They aren’t helping matters.

        You’ll figure it out.

      • That last part could certainly be useful for the blog as well. I can’t thinking that when I manage to make time for blog posts lately, the last few posts seem to be about negative or uncertain feelings about university. I should probably work on that, maybe lighten up little for want of a better phrase.

      • I’d hate to reopen the topic on the comments section, but it’s better than wasting more time on another full post.

        I’m actually fairly certain there is someone who is a leader figure, or at least I think of him as one, and I don’t like him all that much. I feel tension with him at times because when I have made mistakes, he’s failed to show any equanimity or patience about it.

      • And what mistakes has he made?

        A leaders priority is to fix mistakes and try to see they don’t repeat themselves. Just fix the damn problem. It’s not about getting in peoples faces with a bad attitude.

        I can pretty much tell just from what you wrote that I would not follow him on a sidewalk. This is because he will learn that people will hide mistakes from him because of his attitude, and that can become very costly.

  3. I’ve had similar thoughts before when I pursue my creative goals – and from other “makers” (designers, writers, and so on) I’ve spoken to, that’s a normal part of the whole process. But it also sounds like you’re grappling with some internal issues going head-to-head with external issues. I’d say the best thing to do is talk to your professor about how that comment made it seem like you’re going to be criticized for the group’s actions as a whole, and ask what you should do (after all, you can’t be expected to chase down your group one by one and force them into working). I understand where Loose Cannon is coming from with every group having a leader, but that’s usually not how it works in game design student groups.

    A company has a leader whose job it is to have the final say, but a student group has individual responsibilities going to each person and there’s really no one who has the final say or is in charge. Each student is expected to meet their own deadlines, and it’s unreasonable to expect a student to do their work while staying on top of everyone else in their group. Talk to your professor and see what they suggest – they know this situation better than we do.

    • I understand your suggestion, but I can find it difficult to approach lecturers directly about an issue. I can talk to them casually at times, and definitely during classes, and I can definitely talk to them about when I’m stuck on one of my tasks or about information regarding assignments and deadlines. But with personal issues, it seems weird. Added to that, the program director is a nice guy and I don’t doubt that he wants to help and make sure we pass our course or that he sees it in both his interest and our interest, but often times he can seem hard to approach and can seem harsh during lectures. He’s been teaching the course for about 10 years now, and he’s seen many students act in the same way. There actually exists student services for some people in university. Because I’m categorized as a having a learning disability (I’ve was diagnosed with high-functioning autism back when I was 2 years old), I’m allowed to utilize support lecturers and mentors from student services, and the support lecturer can sometimes act as an intermediate figure (as has happened for me in the past) with whom I feel more comfortable talking about more personal stuff with. So thankfully I do have my options. But I think you have a point.

      I think some form of conflict follows me often in university, and not a day goes by when the thought of escaping my situation passes through my mind. Such escapism doesn’t usually prevail as such, but I guess I wouldn’t be as far as I still am if it did.

      • That’s something to be proud of – bravery isn’t never feeling fear or the need to escape, but standing up to that feeling. Talk to your support lecturer and see what they suggest or send an email to your professor to try resolving the issue.

        I’ve had professors like that before too, and they could be difficult to talk to directly if you were unsure from the get-go. In cases like that, I usually resorted to email, but of course you should everything you have available to you – including the different support options you have! You seem to know your comfort zone well, and I’m confident you’ll find a way that works best for you. Good luck, Aleph! I’m rooting for you.

      • Thanks Jam, that means a lot. I just hope I can get through, or things aren’t actually as bad as they seem, before a time should come when I lose my cool.

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