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Tuesday, 24 August 2021

The stage of academic life


By Jillian Viljoen

 “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages”.  This is an excerpt from William Shakespeare’s play, “As you like it, Act II, Scene VII”; a monologue spoken by Jacques, https://shakespeare.folger.edu/downloads/pdf/as-you-like-it_PDF_FolgerShakespeare.pdf

 This excerpt may be familiar to students studying drama or English. For those of us who are unfamiliar with this monologue, it outlines what Shakespeare refers to as the seven stages of life, from birth until death. It follows the growth and experiences of an individual throughout his life. The tone of the monologue is somewhat melancholy because it conveys a beginning of life which is helpless. The individual transitions through various stages which seem somewhat normal and successful, and then returns to helplessness towards the end of his life. The world is referred to as a stage as if we are staging a show where we are all actors in a play. The entrances and exits refer to birth and death. When you read through the whole monologue, you are left wondering “What now? Is this truly how life begins and ends?”


When we examine our academic life, what do we see? Do we have a beginning of helplessness and an ending which is much the same? It is true that we experience a sense of helplessness at the outset. Unfamiliarity creates anxiety and uncertainty. We slowly start investigating and exploring our options to navigate our way to get on track with our academic pursuits.  Dedication, sacrifice and discipline become the order of the day; we want to succeed and make the necessary adjustments to do so.


Our academic life has its challenges. No two days are the same. We are inundated with so many changes, rules and dynamics. The curriculum and social setting are completely different to the school environment. We are acutely aware that we need to modify our lives to accommodate what is sometimes a juggling or balancing act to meet our deadlines. A survival guide via the library, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ukzn-ebooks/detail.action?docID=5900318


In our academic life, after years of consistency and diligence, what is the end result? Helplessness? … No. The helplessness which we experienced at the onset is replaced with a sense of accomplishment; a completed qualification. A qualification which, hopefully, broadens our scope of possibility in terms of employment and self-worth. A library resource to assist with anxiety and stress management,



If academic life is a stage, how are you playing your role? What will the end of your act be? Only you can answer that question. The choice is yours.

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