Yesterday I took a final exam which, at my school, potentially happens every 3.5 weeks. I was running on a 2hr nap and a very shaky understanding of what the last week and half was even about: a bad combination to say the least. As I received the exam I read the short answer questions, I read the essay prompts, and I realized I was doomed. I looked at the clock, I looked at my peers, and I accepted that this was in fact reality and, much to my dismay, no one was coming to save me from this treacherous fate. 2hrs later I begrudgingly turned in my exam: praying that I had circled the right things and that my professor would be more than generous with the free response points. And as I walked away from college hall, I couldn’t help but feel like a failure. Like I didn’t even belong here and that, despite all my hard work, I was average.
One thing I pride myself in is being sane enough to know when I’m being insane. And this was one of those times. I was overreacting. I like to tell myself that I don’t care about grades, that I am content as long as I try my best–but it’s a lie. Trying my best only assuages some of the guilt I feel. The bottom line is I want the A. And I’m not completely satisfied with myself unless I get it. So in the midst of my Type A meltdown I called my brother and released all my frustration, sadness, anger, and guilt onto him.
My brother is a lot like myself, caring just as much about his grades (if not more). And obsessing over outcomes & our abilities to thrive in our prospective careers: English teacher and jazz musician/instructor. But even my empathetic brother agreed that I needed to chill out.
This year has definitely been a struggle for me. But its times like these where I stop and remind myself that tackling challenges means I won’t always come out on top. I have to let go of the mindset that receiving anything less than an A means I’m slacking because that’s just not true. As I spoke to my brother about these frustrations he brought up a similar conversation that he heard on archispeak (a podcast about architecture) that said: “we tend to think if we’re not building ourselves 24/7 that means we don’t care enough. Architecture is a big part of who you are but it’s not all you are”. This quote really resonated with me because while I’m an undergrad student, trying to set myself up for a successful career as an educator, I am so many other things. And in the grand scheme of things, what I got in an introductory anthropology class isn’t going to define me. But how I deal with what I get in this intro anthropology class might.
What matters most is not my shortcomings: rather, it’s the ability to deal with them in a positive way, learn from them, and move on.