Youth, adulthood, and studenthood

So yesterday I’ve completed all of my assignments for the second year of university, and have arrived at the end of an entire project cycle. For about a year and a half (since January 2015), I have been working on a game project in a team consisting of ten people, which later became a team of only six (either way, that was the entire class), in which we had to design a full playable game level. But now, it’s over. In addition, I have reached the end of another production cycle as part of one of the modules where we had to cross over with the animation students. Which means I no longer have to work with any of the animation students ever again – something that I find entirely liberating because I have hated working with them for the long haul. Now I can move on into the third year, and probably the Master’s degree as well.

There has been a lot of blood, sweat, and a variety other emotions put into the whole experience. I’ve had to put up with someone shouting down my neck, people shooting me down, and for one module being the leader of an entire group where everyone else is wholly incompetent.

To be honest, that last part is one part I feel strongly about. The animations students I worked with just go through motions, they just want to do menial work, but they take so long to do it and they make excuses along the way. It can take weeks for me to get completed work from them, and they are meager at justifying it. By this week when we were getting ready for our presentations, they did not deliver content for our trailer at the agreed upon date, they didn’t agree to a date for looking over the presentation outside of classes, and they hadn’t even started their report on the night before. Sometimes it seems to me that they don’t take the project or module seriously, or even want to engage the university on an adult level (which I might not care too much about if this weren’t such a regular thing and I had to deal with it and assert some semblance of order to make our project run smoothly). That’s important because it dawns on me that university is supposed to teach you to deal with the world as it is on an adult level, or mature level. I hate to use the term “grow up”, but it’s often proved to be a necessary short hand for what I actually want to get across – to deal with the situation as it is and have the maturity to  navigate the world honestly and free of ignorance. Maybe “get real” would work better?

I’m starting to think there is very often a problem with students not willing to mature in university for the longest time. I’m not just talking about all the bullcrap about safe spaces and trigger warnings. In general, I’ve seen quite the few students who think only about the fun side of being in university, very little about the work. The animation students I’ve dealt with still think there is the risk of losing marks, when that’s not how assessments work, at least in my university – you don’t start off with full marks and then get marked down for each mistake, you earn credit for what you’ve done. I’m not sure if they’ve gotten all of the ideas they picked up in school out of their heads to be very honest.

I think what might be a real problem is the perception of adulthood. Think about it, whenever we think about the prospect of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, we think only of what we seem bound to lose. We’re told that being an adult, or “growing up”, means sacrificing your youthful spirit (or the exuberance associated with youth) and becoming a bland shadow of your former self. Being told to “act your age” doesn’t help matters, and ironically my brother and I have seen this phrase bandied around at teenagers in school – which is very disingenuous because they’re clearly acting their age if you think about it! In truth, the only thing you should “sacrifice” as you get older is stupidity, ignorance, and the weakness of the will, and that can be a life-long cultivation rather than an ultimate attainment. Is this thing we call youth not simply the lust for life? Do we really need to stop hungering for an exciting, active, and fulfilling life full of spirit and vigor just because our culture defines roles for human beings based on the age of the body, to which the spirit need not conform? And trust me, maturity ought to mean so much more than simply reaching a certain age – you don’t attain the wisdom you need to grow and develop as a person simply from turning 18, 20, or 21. It’s all about how you deal with the world, reflect on it, and learn from it. To stay youthful is thus not to regress and maintain immaturity, but to cling fast to the natural hunger for the life, the will to take life by its horns, and you will learn, grow, and mature a lot in the process without it amounting to being “crushed by the weight of the world”.

Having been through two years of university so far, and probably two more years to go, I should know. Having been unburdened via the completion of my assignments, I have a lot of time to devour and seize life; do the things that I’ve been meaning to do but felt like I had to put off in order to suit my schedule for university, and generally just do fun things too. There’s a lot of life life out there, and life in me, and I intend to make what I can with my time with the right plan in mind.

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