Do you ever get that form of mental dysmorphia where you can’t seem to fathom, after staring at your work, whether it is good or bad anymore? It’s really normal to feel that way (It comes with the stress of deadlines at this time of year) and yet nobody seems to discuss this as often as it perhaps needs to be. I know from my own perspective, having a helping opinion would be more than useful in regards to this. Am I working hard enough?

When this happens, it tends to be a consequence of hard work. So a good sign, but not really something which helps with figuring out how to feel happy with the amount of work you are completing and getting rid of the guilt that comes with every break you take from text books. What you need to do now is to try and take a step back to look over everything and to reassure yourself that you have managed to maintain that balance you set out to achieve. The best way of oing this is by reading over an essay or academic piece out loud so that you can edit and review simultaneously. Often you’ll find that when you read back over what you have done, what you have achieved is much more significant than you initially thought it would be.

If this doesn’t work then you’ll find yourself asking again the question, ‘am I working hard enough?’

When your own work doesn’t persuade you, after sitting and working for hours from the feedback you sought out yourself, then you need to take a step back from the work altogether. Like I say, it’s all about balance; It should be every student’s favourite word really because it promises success. If you come away from reading your work with this response then turn off the laptop, put down your notebook and pull on your coat because you need to go for a walk to clear your head. It can be useful to take a friend with you because then you can talk and stressing together is much better than stressing alone.

Working hard enough is something there is no exact definition to, which is why you are asking all these questions that only become more complex and unanswerable as you go. The best answer to the question is ‘yes, I am working hard enough because it is the best that I can do’. You’re most likely striving to that unrealistic expectation you’ve set for yourself and you need to retreat from that and remind yourself that with time, the unrealistic becomes much more achievable. Everyone has a different rate and just because someone else seems far ahead of you doesn’t mean you aren’t exactly where you need to be. You have a pace that you work best at and changing that will only mean you decrease the quality of your learning process and final product.

So listen to yourself and create a mantra, do whatever it takes to ensure that you get plenty of breaks to step back from the work and just live. Remember, hard work is also the product of living and nothing of any worth was ever made in a vacuum. Experience the world, experience your thought process one on one and then sit down to write. It won’t feel like you imagine hard work should, but that is all hard work is in the end; A stock image that doesn’t meet expectation.