The dream subject doesn’t exist (and it took me 20 years to find out?!)

Apparently Edinburgh University is bucking the trend, and admissions for its maths courses are up. I was there for one lecture in first year, and it was certainly quite busy (although not nearly as busy as Politics).

Yup, last year I almost took Maths as my outside subject, but just one lecture was enough for me to realise that it was far too difficult for me. This is despite the fact that my original idea was to do Maths and Statistics or something along those lines at university. I had wanted to take Advanced Higher Maths in sixth year at high school, but not enough other people wanted to do it (they only needed seven!). So I had to take a year off without thinking about any maths. It was enough to practically knock it all out of my system entirely. Now I can’t imagine why I ever thought Maths and Stats would be a good idea?!

So guess what I took in sixth year instead of Maths? Economics. And I found it pretty interesting. In fact, my friend who also took Economics and I both found it incredibly refreshing, because it was a subject that seemed to actually mean something outside the classroom. It was something that we could go home and think about and say, ‘yes, I see that happening in real life.’ Goodness knows what crap I was learning in Maths or Physics and at the time, but I certainly didn’t seem important, and I can’t remember most of it now.

(I can remember that s = ut + ½at², but only because when I got some plants for my bedroom, for some reason that I still don’t understand today, my mother was eager for me to name them. So I called them all stupid names to take the piss. ‘s = ut + ½at²’ died quite quickly.)

So after the success of Higher Economics I decided to take Economics (along with Politics) at University as well. Imagine my shock when I ended up having to know calculus inside out! Sometimes I think I almost might as well have pulled a subject out of a hat. Now I wish I took Meteorology instead. I think I’ve been interested in weather all my life, except for those couple of weeks when the Ucas form was in my possession. But the grass is always greener, huh? Who knows what I’d be saying if I actually did do Meteorology…

It’s not that I dislike Economics or anything. Infact I think it’s very interesting. But I find it difficult to be fully convinced by everything that we’re taught, and I do find it the subject difficult as well, which isn’t a help. Nevertheless, I’m quite determined to see Economics through because I feel deep down that it is somehow a better subject than Politics.

I’ve mentioned six or seven subjects so far, and I’ve been somewhat agnostic about all of them for at least part of my life. But sitting here today I feel that so much of what happens in life is down to pure luck, so I guess I should just take what I’m given and be happy with it.

In the past, though, it was a different matter. I think I should tread carefully here, because I got a bit of criticism when I gave up piano lessons. Some people thought that I should have appreciated that I had talent, and that it was a bit selfish of me to just reject it when so many people would give their right arm to be able to play the piano (they obviously haven’t thought about how they would actually play the piano once they had lost said arm). But then again I did get criticised by somebody else who said that I should have quit earlier because I wasn’t interested in it. You can’t win, can you?

Anyway, there are two subjects that everybody thought I was good at in school: English and Computing. But I just have to say no no no.

I have no idea why people thought I was good at English. I hated English with a passion, but for some reason double English was always the most fun subject in fifth year because it was also the one where we were allowed to skive. I can’t remember what we were supposed to be doing, but we weren’t doing it and it must have been something where having loud, jovial conversations and pissing ourselves laughing wouldn’t arouse the teacher’s suspicions.

The only good marks I got in English were for speaking. I don’t know what it was, but something always seemed to click when I had to make a speech about something in front of the whole class. Unfortunately, it was never so when I had to write something. Ironic, given that I now spend so much of my spare time writing for fun. Anyway, I hated writing — especially stories, because I have all the imagination of a sieve (I’m equally bad at similes).

And I know you’re not supposed to admit this if you want people to think you’re really smart or whatever, but I almost never read books for pleasure, and I certainly don’t read novels. In fact, all forms of fiction (films, dramas, plays, whatever) need to be bloody amazing to grab my attention. Don’t ask me why, but I just find it all boring.

Which brings me on to Computing. Zzzzz. Apparently if you do Computing you’re going to make loads of money, but who gives a stuff about that if you’ve got to spend your whole life doing boring shit like programming. Unlike with English, I actually was good at Computing, but I simply could not see myself spending my whole life doing that sort of thing.

Third year, when you start Standard Grades, is when the really boring shit starts. I was sitting at the computer during a lesson, and just as I was actually thinking how incredibly dull programming was, my Computing teacher came up to me wielding a piece of paper with a note scrawled on it: “fourth year and talented third year only”. I was one of those third years singled out. My teacher wanted me to enter this annual programming competition which I think a lot of people actually take quite seriously.

“Errrrrr, I don’t really like competitions,” was my lame excuse.
“But you like programming,” came my teacher’s reply.


This is nice. I’ve been wanting to get some of those things off my chest for ages! 😀 I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no point in finding a dream subject or career. They are all pretty shit, the grass is always greener, and so on. So there’s not much point in worrying about it by, for instance, writing an oversized blog post about it…

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