This visit was about picking up some books for an upcoming mid-semester essay, and also partly about reconnecting with my love for books and literature and libraries and university. My September/October slump, which I was beginning to shake off after my Paris trip, still hovered on the edges of my consciousness, and I was determined to kick it to the curb with one big final library push.
Setting foot inside the building, and roaming its hallways, I realised that you can’t just eradicate a slump so completely and immediately from your life. It takes time. This revelation came, somewhat stupidly, with the recognition that my mid-semester essay will not happen overnight. My catch-up reading will not happen in one day. My book will not write itself in a week.
Of course, ‘complete’ didn’t mean perfect – a lot of editing and rewriting took place. But the bulk of the work was done. I began my tasks early, I took my time with them, and I gave myself plenty of time to perfect. Probably unsurprisingly, the grades I got third year were the best of my entire undergraduate degree. Partly because my standard was so much better than first and second year, partly because I’d made such a huge effort to dedicate the time and patience to my work.
Kicking my slump to the curb requires the same sort of time and patience. Setting unrealistic expectations for myself – “I will be happy and complete everything I need to and be on top of my life by next week” – is just setting myself up for failure, and then more slump as I become even more disappointed with myself.
And all this came to me as I wandered aimlessly around the Maughan, surrounded by that irresistible book smell, surrounded by the things I love most.