Ik Student
Universiteit Amsterdam
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’There’s always that tendency to give up or procrastinate’

Silent treatment

‘The first time I had to stay back a year in secondary school, my mother didn’t speak to me for several weeks. I was given the silent treatment. She made me feel I was worthless if I didn’t try hard in school.’


‘I simply prefer the night to the day. At night it’s quiet and I find it easier to concentrate. I study then as well. If I have an exam, I pull an all-nighter. I usually pass then.’

Joe (27) is studying business economics at the HvA, but his studies aren’t going well. He doesn’t feel motivated, he has problems sleeping and he suffers from stress. The student psychologist advises him to see his GP, but he’s not up to that.

Joe went to the havo until he was twenty one. Then he tried a year at the vwo, but he failed. After having worked for two years, he decided to enrol in a degree course. Joe: ‘I wanted to get the most out of it and I chose business economics, part time. The plan was to then go on to the UvA.’
At first he exceeded expectations. He felt the pace was alright, and he passed all his exams. In the second year he switched to the full time course. ‘That was quite different: the students have a different mentally there, they are younger and there are many students who have come from the mbo. That makes it more school like and so boring that my motivation subsided.’

Messy study
‘I usually find it hard to concentrate during the lessons. That may be because most of the subjects are taught without any enthusiasm. A while ago I decided it would be better if I were to open up a book at home. I kept that up for weeks, but in the end I didn’t pass my exam. My house turned out not to be the best place to study. My study was always messy and my girlfriend and I often fought. That created tension which took away any inclination to do anything. Besides, there were many distractions at home like internet and television.’

Late to bed
Since he was young, Joe has had problems sleeping. That is to say he goes to bed very late and lies in until late. ‘Those problems already started when I was seventeen. When it’s very extreme, I don’t go to bed until eleven in the morning. I have periods like that. In the evening I always have at the back of my mind all the things I still need to do for school, but I procrastinate and then it becomes later and later. At some point I become tired and fall asleep. The next day that pattern repeats itself. That way my day and night rhythm keep moving up a bit further each time.’
Joe thinks his problems sleeping are closely related to how he feels at the time. ‘When I’m doing things I enjoy, I get up early and when I’m doing things I don’t enjoy, I’m more likely to lie in.’

He also suffers badly from stress. ‘In the time leading up to exams, or when I have to hand in something, I have the tendency to procrastinate, making me more and more tense. I’m particularly worried I’ll fail, even though I’ve worked myself to the bone. Then I would have done it all for nothing. That’s why I always have the tendency to give up or procrastinate. The other day I was having a drink with a classmate and all I could think about were all the subjects I still needed to retake. It made me feel downhearted that I didn’t have anything fun to talk about.’

Not a talker
So he does have some problems, but Joe doesn’t like to talk about them. ‘If I feel people don’t know what to do with the information, I don’t tell them. Then I try to find solutions myself.’ Joe rarely talks to his girlfriend about it. ‘She’s only a student with similar problems to mine, so we would only be troubling each other. And my father’s not much of a talker either. That’s why I don’t talk to him about things like this. He would say things like: “Just stick it out”. He listens to me, but it doesn’t help me much. It doesn’t make me feel better.’

But last semester Joe decided, at his girlfriend’s insistence, to see a student psychologist. ‘Because I’m not happy with the way I am now and with my role in life. I’m looking for something, but I don’t know what it is yet. It was quite a big step, but I should have taken it much earlier. The student psychologist advised me to see my GP and then Mentrum. Because my problem is fundamental.’
Now, weeks later, Joe has still not been to see his GP. ‘For whatever reason I’m not very proactive: it’s still a big step for me, even though the physical effort is minimal.’

Elle’s story: ‘And once again I was rejected by a group of girls’
Joe’s story: ’There’s always that tendency to give up or procrastinate’
Louis’s story: ‘I didn’t want to tell the same story over and over again’
Megan’s story: ‘You’re not crazy if you see a psychologist’

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