If you haven’t already encountered some dragons, you almost certainly will now that you have embarked on a brave and chivalrous quest for knowledge. Granted, there are occasionally far more terrifying distractions to deal with, such as damsels in distress, but we will have to reserve those for other, more protracted, round-table discussions.
But fear not. This scroll will equip you with everything you need to defeat your dragons, preserve your mortal coil and conquer your studies.
I have toiled over these words as much for women as men. No gender instability is implied or intended. For a sensitive analysis of the tricky triune of damsels, knights and dragons, search the shelves for Dr Notawitch’s manuscript, referenced below.
To preserve you from any possible misunderstanding, a damsel is a person of the more delicate, female persuasion, not a type of fruit – that’s a damson.
So, without further ado, here are the top ten tips that will help you triumph on your journey:
Battle it out. Killing dragons is hard, sweaty, scary work. Sometimes you might accomplish the task with a single, well-aimed thrust, but it’s much more likely to take you months of sustained effort. But it’s worth it. Hard-won freedom tastes sweetest.
Weather the storms. As you make progress, don’t be surprised if you suffer mood swings; the illuminating flash of insight one moment, the corrosive breath of the dragon the next. These highs and lows will become less extreme as you gain in confidence.
Show your metal. Some of the ‘You can’t…’ dragon’s favourite phrases are ‘You can’t do this’, ‘It’ll take too long’, and ‘You’re not clever enough’. Fight the ‘You can’t…’ dragon with ‘I can…’ weapons.
Do it today. The most destructive dragon of all is the Old Procrastinator. Give him half a chance, and he will gnaw away at your very soul. Defeat him by not letting things drag on (sorry). Maintain your energy levels and try, at the very least, to complete one, small, achievable step every day.
Dodge the doubt. Occasionally you’ll meet a dragon with the disgusting ability to spit poisonous gobs of self-doubt at you. Stay out of range by reminding yourself that you can achieve anything you want to by breaking it down into smaller steps, being persistent and having faith in yourself.
Strengthen your resolve. Prepare yourself for conflicting emotions. The quest is madness and sanity combined. At first, you have a choice, but after a while, it becomes something you have to do. Then it becomes part of your identity.
Compare ye not. The dragon of comparison will occasionally nag at you about other people’s achievements. Get it behind you by accepting that, because you are on your own, unique path, comparisons are meaningless.
Tame your fears. You shouldn’t automatically attack every dragon you meet. Anxiety, for instance, is a useful form of anticipation. It can help you work out what to do next and give you a big shove in the right direction when you most need it. So, don’t try to eliminate it. Tame it!
Liberate your soul. One day you will realise that you no longer need your armour. When that day comes, take it off, piece-by-piece, and revel in your new-found freedom. With such a burden lifted from your shoulders, you will feel as though you are walking on air.
Enjoy the journey. The higher you climb, the more exhilarating your journey will become. Use the increasing acuity of your vision. The occasional dragon may be more deadly, but it will be less able to take you by surprise. You can see more and are much stronger now.
I am indebted to Doctors Notawitch and Nutter for access to their extensive library of research materials and rare manuscripts. They have worked unstintingly over several decades to untangle many arcane matters relating to damsels, knights and dragons. This comparatively hurriedly scribbled piece could not have been written without their help.
I would also like to thank the Bodleian Library for bringing some recently discovered manuscripts to my attention, from our local area, including ‘The Dragons of Fareham Town’ and ‘The Gosport Wyrm’.
Two further treatises consulted during the assembly of this short course of instruction were:
The Hermeneutics of the Damsel in Distress: A Reappraisal of Power and Gender in the Medieval Era - Dr Morgana Notawitch
A Post-modern Interpretation of the Knight-Dragon Relationship: A Reassessment of the Hero’s Journey - Dr Sirius Nutter
Written by John Rowe, Keeper of the Digital Scrolls