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How Studying For Exams Ruined Me (Gone Not-Sexual!)

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I have to go to law school. For no reason other than the burning desire to conquer myself, I've set my sights on top 20 schools, ideally T14. Given that, I have to study very hard and score very highly on the LSAT. I think I can do it, and I have committed the next year and a half to studying for it. I think I'll be able to pull it off.


When I started studying and drilling, I found my rate of correct scores to be within expectations. My issue? I couldn't answer more than 4 questions in a row without looking off into the distance. This is highly problematic. With ~1:20 to answer any one question and only 35 minutes per section, every second that you waste will come back to bite you. I'd never had this problem before! I don't have ADHD or ADD, I'd always tested highly for reading comprehension and reasoning, I'd been on global leaderboards, and more! I had so much to academically flex! Why was I suddenly struggling to focus on the questions in front of me?


I don't have TikTok. Alright, well, I do, but not for myself. TikTok's browser is horrible to use, and my girlfriend likes sending me TikToks, so I'd click on them, get redirected to the app and watch a few, then close it for weeks. I never had any trouble with that. With my watch history turned off on YouTube, I never had YouTube Shorts to think about. I was, however, infected with Instagram and the Reels virus. I promise, this will all make sense soon.


I was never the guy who spent hours on Instagram scrolling through Reels, but I had a lot of free time. When I wasn't playing games or watching YouTube videos, I was scrolling through Instagram. I didn't realize it at the time, but morning shits were the most exciting time for me! I got the chance to sit and consume content fast. All I was doing was consuming. Some of you might be aware of the fact that I love talking about how my social media feeds are curated. They never have ragebait or news on them, and I am always curating my algorithm to send me fun, happy videos, pictures, art and updates from friends that I actually consider close. So you can see how everything I was consuming was tailored to make me feel good, to spread positivity, and not to get me addicted to anger, exasperation and frustration. As I would soon find out, my quest to avoid all that is unhealthy led to a different kind of issue.


If everything that I've typed so far seems disorganized and confusing, please bear with me. Let me weave this boring story and bring it all together.


University life motivated me to optimize everything. Early on, I realized that lectures just recapped basic textbook content, that little attention was required in class, and that doing homework when I was in a lecture hall was more time-efficient. I'd get my work done, grab a meal, do a little workout, and get down to reading and taking notes. A collection of classes that would have eaten up 6 hours of my day took about an hour and a half to study, and so I was done with homework, classes and workouts by the evening. I never worked past 5 pm! So, what does a free student do? He mucks about. I studied programming, studied Japanese, played video games, watched movies, read comics, watched Reels, watched YouTube videos, and more. I was always doing something, and everything I was doing involved someone giving me content. I was always consuming something, even while learning. I couldn't get enough of being told things, because it always felt productive and I was always proud of being able to walk into any room and being able to have a conversation with anyone about the basics of their fields of interest.


Combining my need to consume with the idea that what I was doing was healthy was a horrible mistake. I became unable to focus on one thing at a time. Because everything felt good to do, I wanted to do everything. The metaphoric cake of a certain activity started to taste bad in excess, and so I would switch to a different tasting cake without a break in between. I was unable to appreciate the fulfillment that one gets when one eliminates their weaknesses. I was only riding the highs of building more strengths.


This brings me to the LSAT. Through some basic deductive work, I concluded that I was unable to focus because I didn't think the work was attractive enough. I didn't think that I was learning anything while studying for it, because I hadn't conditioned myself to value the elimination of weaknesses. If I got a question wrong, I lived with it and celebrated the ones I got right. Again, I didn't care about getting better at the things I sucked at, I only cared about feeling good. When I realized this, I knew that I could treat the issue by brute-forcing focus, but I figured that that would ultimately just put me in a position where I hated the work. I knew that, then, I'd find reasons to not study, and that my dream would vaporize in front of me. So, my job was to figure out why I was addicted to everything except studying!


Alright, it was obviously very simple. I'm not really addicted to any one thing, I'd just rather do other things. The first thing I did was to delete Instagram. It became obvious to me that my consistent overconsumption of content was harming my attention span, and with it, TikTok went too (sorry, babe). I deleted a ton of apps from my phone that facilitated other consumption issues. Depop, along with Amazon, had to go. I'm broke, so it's not like I was buying things constantly. I just thought it would be unhealthy to give myself the temptation now that Reels was gone. Shared calendars, messaging apps I don't use and friends that didn't really care for me were gone too. I unsubscribed from a lot of YouTube channels too, leaving only long form content and sports analyses that I thought were high quality and served to educate me on the things I truly loved instead of what I had a fleeting curiosity in. All of it was removed. I thought I was already living a lean and balanced life, but was I? We'd see.


The first issue was with some friends. They were nice to me, but never texted first, always wanted me on games with them, never asked about my life and weren't as driven as I was, even before this whole cleanse. They weren't malevolent, they were just the video game equivalent to good-natured colleagues. I needed better. My inner circle got cut down further. The second issue was that I had replaced Reels with YouTube. Yes, if you can believe it, my screentime stayed at 6-7 hours purely off of video essays. I swear on all that is holy, I was not watching anything that was poor quality, and that was the issue. I had replaced one happiness addiction for another. I've since deleted YouTube on my phone. All that remains is Snapchat to communicate with classmates, Signal for some private chatter, and Discord for the 5 servers I'm in, 3 of which I run (join the MegaShock Discord! It has very cool people including me, and me, and me, and me!).


I now own, essentially, a very expensive texting phone.


I have a policy where my laptop and iPad can only be turned off if the last thing on-screen is work, so that even if I start up those devices, I am compelled to earn my YouTube time, and that seems to be working well. I have picked up reading novels again. I am still reading comics, One Piece and Dragon Ball Super, but I hadn't read fiction novels in years before I started again recently. I enjoyed non-fiction almost exclusively, but this is a good break from that learning addiction I had. I am getting back to a place where I can focus on the words in front of me. My scores on drills is going higher. I was intending to take a prep test today to track my scores (and I have a very in depth and statistically driven system for tracking my progress that is very cool and nerdy), but our whole house is sick thanks to a bug my father brought home. I am faring the best, but I am not in a state to simulate testing conditions. I will try to take it tomorrow morning.


Ultimately, I found out some disappointing truths. I am not as humble as I thought I was. I was confident in my ability to perform well academically, but I underestimated my attention issues. I had no one to blame but myself, and I am happy to take accountability. I allowed myself to fall into the short-form trap, I conditioned myself to find value in hopping in between tasks, and it's me who is struggling to make up for the mental state that I am in. Of course, all of this is greatly motivating and I am working hard to get better. Still, I am disappointed that I am not the version of myself that I thought I was, and it's because I already thought that I had a long way to go in life while simultaneously making great progress towards that end. Now, I think that I wasn't, but that's not going to stop me.


In the interest of staying sane and not drowning in work, I have tasked myself with the following: follow more sports, read more books, journal more, work on an Arch system on a ThinkPad, call the missus more often, and help my family prepare to move to our new place(s). I'm still working on my fashion collection, still drawing, and still working out. I've even picked up cooking more seriously, which is something I've always been good at. Things are good. I just want them to be better.


I want whoever is stupid enough to read all of this to realize that we are being subjected to the whims of people who treat our neurology as an asset. Trillion dollar companies spend billions in efforts to keep us on their platforms. You know this. We all know this. You are a victim. We are all victims. That doesn't mean that you have to stay one. You already know you have more control over your life than they do. You can make a difference for yourself, and if you ever feel bad about your consumption habits, know that it's not your fault. You are outgunned by about $5T, thousands of employees and billions of hours of content. You never had a chance of not getting involved. The only thing that would be your fault is if you didn't make the changes that you want to make. If you are happy where you are, then great! This is a niche post on a niche forum, and the probability that you intentionally budget your time so that you can explore pages like this is high. But if you happen to be someone who feels trapped, slow, or unfulfilled, it might be because everything around you sucks compared to what you're being fed. Remember when your parents made you start using a spoon and a fork? Remember how it sucked and how you'd rather they feed you? Now think about how you'd rather feed yourself than have someone clunkily bring a trembling spoon to your lips, dropping crumbs everywhere. You've become independent once, and you can do it again.


I'd love to play games again. I really would. It's the only thing I miss. But I know that I'd be doing myself a disservice, and I am forever motivated by the question that demands an answer to when I'll start wanting the best for myself. I want the best for myself now, so I have to earn it.


Studying for the LSAT has ruined me. I am not who I was months ago. I think I'm happy with that. I feel better, I am more communicative, I'm more patient, and, yes, I am only slightly more attentive. I can do better, and I am doing better. I just hope that this makes you want to work for your arbitrary and pointless dreams too, and if it makes you want to call me a LOSER in all caps, that's fine too. There's more to talk about here; porn use, chemical depression, auxiliary goals and more. I don't think that this is the space to get into that. I'd rather talk about the treating of the human brain as an asset and what I've done to overcome that since I think that more people can take away positive things from that than my private issues. I am more than willing to talk about them if questions come up, but I'd be surprised if they did. Hope this helps...

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