Sometimes you get involved in something because it’s what your feelings drive you to do. This means that eventually your feelings will shift, because that’s what feelings do, and you will be left with the choice of either sticking it out and jumping the hurdles, or jumping ship. This sounds like a complex way for me to describe relationships – and it is. But not in the way you might expect. I’m talking about my own personal experience being a classics student. And I’m particularly talking about studying Ancient Greek.
I am just about to wrap up my first year of university as a Classical Philology student, this means that I’ve spent the last 9 months of my intensively trying to learn Latin and Ancient Greek. And last week I had the ability to chose to drop one of them and specialise in the other. Now this is where if you’ve talked to me you’d think there’d be no issue and I’d just continue on with both of them. But there was an issue, and it’s an issue I’ve had for about as long as I’ve been a university student – I never fell in love with Greek the same way I did Latin.
This might not seem like a big deal and the obvious answer here would have been for me to drop Greek. But this was not something I was able to do for a number of reasons, partly because a career in Classics would be easier for me to pursue if I had a degree in both languages, but mainly because my passions for Classics I had before I arrived at university were rooted in Ancient Greece, not Rome. This meant that I either had to give up what actually brought me into the Classics department or study something that has made me cry on multiple occasions.
So how was I meant to deal with this? Well, in the end I chose to pursue an education in both languages, but I still have my reservations of if it was the correct choice for me. Because the logical part of me knows that in a few years I’ll be happy I chose both, but the Emma of now can’t stop thinking about the time I hyperventilated and sobbed because I couldn’t understand how to translate Xenophon.
I guess the big question on my mind these past few weeks has been, how am I supposed to separate my passion for Ancient Greece with my apparent hatred of the language? I could chose to only spend time with Latin and feed my lesser passions in that discipline, but I don’t want think I want to spend my life thinking about Virgil and late republic politics, no matter how interesting I find them now. Because the whole time I would be thinking about what I said no to.
Which brings us back to the start of this post. What do you do when your feelings disappear? For me this was when I started learning the language necessary for the future I had seen myself in. I could have chosen to leave it and let myself be ruled by my feelings. But I decided to stick it out and try to work for the future I wanted instead of just waiting for it. To quote the Netflix romcom Set It Up:
You like because, you love despite.
I started liking Classics because I wanted to read The Iliad in the original language, now I love Classics despite having to read The Iliad in the original language.