Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
I have been a university student for seven weeks now, and it’s hard work. Surprised? I sure am. Somehow I thought studying for the second time would be easier. Not a chance! I have submitted two assignments so far, both were late by a few days. In hindsight there are three things I didn’t factor in which probably contributed to the lateness.
- I underestimate how long it is going to take.
- I find studying tiring: you can read about my ongoing battle with Chronic Fatigue in A Mountainous Journey.
- My body is so sore: it is not used to sitting at a computer for many hours.
I am definitely feeling it returning to study: physically, emotionally and mentally. When I studied my first degree it was not all smooth sailing, which initially surprised me, as everyone had great stories of the social life university brings. For me it remains the highlight of my first experience. But they conveniently left out how hard gaining a degree is, to be fair, I honestly never thought to ask them. What I wasn’t expecting was the three things above but also the heavy workload, crippling anxiety (for which I went home every weekend just to cope) and having to accept that carers and an electric wheelchair were just part of my new life. Up to that point year 12 was my biggest workload (which I completed over two years). Most of this time was spent ignoring how dominant my anxiety was and refusing to deal with events from my past. My parents took care of me and I protested against using an electric wheelchair. The last one might surprise you so let me explain. Here are five reasons I protested getting an electric wheelchair.
- Electric wheelchairs aren’t small by any stretch of the imagination, there is no blending into the crowd when you are in it. For a girl who has always wanted to fit in this was a no go. When I eventually HAD to get one (otherwise I would be very late to class, wreck a ton of shoes because of the way I walk and probably collapse walking that far all the time) I got the slimmest model I could find and it was STILL massive.
- An OT once told me “you will have so much freedom”. Let’s ponder that for a moment. Electric wheelchairs can’t go up and down curbs, stairs and even gutters that are too deep. Due to their large mass, electric wheelchairs struggle to move around stores (knocking things off shelves and they can’t fit into most change rooms) and in restaurants (fitting under tables and moving past other customers). I will save you from visualising every situation, but you get the idea. An electric wheelchair doesn’t offer me more freedom because I still have options in the form of a walking frame and a manual wheel chair. For people that don’t have those options I am sure it does provide freedom. I just wish that OT’s didn’t say such a flippant broad statement like that, because the reality just hurts.
- It is never fast enough. It may cost as much as a small car (that’s just the base model without any bells and whistles) but it sure doesn’t have the speed of one. I much prefer Fast & Furious to Driving Miss Daisy. My family and friends will joke about putting in a better motor among other things. May be one of these days we will try… could be fun!
- Until I went to university it was never seen as a necessity. The only reason I have a walking frame is because I need it, without it I would fall down and get nowhere, literally. The same goes for an electric wheelchair for a long time I didn’t need one. I have a manual wheelchair for longer distances that people I am with can push and help me get around stores etc.
- My electric wheelchair only just fits, disassembled, in my parents Ford Territory that is with nothing else in the boot. This means I am less inclined to take it anywhere considering the walking frame and manual wheelchair are much more compact in comparison.
A friend of mine recently decided to change direction with her study. She was travelling more hours than she was sitting in class for. Her decision made me question my own to Just Jump. I thought to myself studying is hard, should I really be doing it? From previous experience I knew that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it is not worth it. And Jesus had asked me to study again. I think of it this way, a few months ago I started lifting weights. I had been previously unsure about it as I didn’t want to become bulky. Once I found the answer ‘you will not become like the Hulk from lifting weights’ I was happy to take up the exercise. I didn’t realise when I started how hard it is to lift weights. I have always had pretty good upper body strength, but I could really feel the burn. For me it has been worth it; I have increasingly toned arms despite how hard it is.
If you are finding something hard work and you’re wondering whether you should continue ask Jesus about it. If He says “stop”, stop. If He says “keep going”, don’t give up. Jesus will help you.