Thursday, March 26, 2009


So, I had another physics test last night and an interesting topic that I had explored briefly in the past reared it's ugly head again. Last time I mentioned that while I was overjoyed about my test score, I didn't say a word about it until I got into my car and could call my friends. It was just an offhand comment, but it was brought up in my book club later that week.

I was asked why I was ashamed of my performance, and how I would have to work on being more proud of my accomplishments. I tried to explain why I kept quiet in class (basically, I didn't want to make anyone feel badly about how they had scored) and I thought about it more that night when I went home. In my mind, I was no way ashamed of my performance (as evidenced by my blog the next day.) I just wanted to be sure that I was crowing to my friends who could be genuinely be happy for me, instead of irritating others who may not have scored as well as I have. I mean, I've been there too...when you don't get quite the score you were hoping for, and you really really really want to be happy for your friend who did well, but there's that tiny part of you that just wants them to shut up because you hate them and their high score. Bringing up that feeling in others, that's what I wanted to avoid.

And last night my feelings on the matter were enforced.

I don't feel good about the test last night at all. I mean, I don't think I failed like F failed, but I'm super nervous about it and probably won't stop obsessing about one stupid problem that I missed until I freaking get my test back on Monday. (four long days away.)

I have a good friend in the class, Jess, and we were going through a post test debrief during the lecture following the exam. (Yes, the professor lectures for 90 minutes following each exam. Seriously. It's like torture for your brain that has been reduced to mush. Ugh.) She's the one who enlightened me on the problem that I missed. I told her I had trouble on it, she told me how she did the problem, I realized she was correct, and I was obsessing musing on how many other problems I probably only got partial credit on and how that was going to turn out for me overall. My brain was obviously fully occupied with these obsessions thoughts and I was responding to Jess mechanically as she asked me questions about the other problems that she had trouble with and how I answered them. She obviously knew I was distracted and upset, so after we were done going through the eight questions she said, "It will be fine. You're fine. I mean, how did you do on the last test? Seriously. I don't think I ever asked?"

On autopilot, I answered, "an 81%."

She said, "What?!" Which immediately brought me back to reality.

"Um, an 81%." I said a bit more sheepishly.

"Oh my God! You are fine. You will be just fine. What are you even worried about? I can't believe you're worried if you got an 81% on the last test. Do you even know what I got?" [I didn't.] "You did so much better than I did...."

It went on and on. I have no doubt that she originally asked me the question in an effort to make me feel better about the big picture overall. And I'm sure she expected to comiserate with me about how we could still pass if we worked really hard. But the thing is, I don't want to just pass. I didn't come into this vet thing completely unprepared. I know how difficult it is to get into vet school, and I know (believe me, I know) that it's more competitive than med school. I know. So I can't just pass. I need A's. (I will grudgingly accept B's. I will not be happy at all about C's. Getting a C would be like failing to me. I never said I was easy on myself.)

And it's difficult to explain that to someone in the trenches with you. It's difficult to say that to you, missing one question on an eight question exam feels like the end of the world, because it already drops you down to a B, and that's if you got everything else perfectly correct (which, let's face it, you probably did not.) That doesn't really seem to matter. All the other person sees is that you got a much higher score on the last test, and for that it's easy to dismiss a bad score because it all evens out in the end. But me? I can't take that chance. I want the A that I'm working hard for. I DID do well on that last test, but that was the last test. I can't rest on that. I need to do well on this test, the next test and the final. I can't lose sight of that.

So when I get this test back, no matter what I got, I won't discuss it in class. If it's decent and I'm excited, I'll post here and have you guys be all exited for me so that I can be all proud and happy like I want to be. If it's horrible, I'll be sad and mopey and THEN you guys can tell me that it will be okay, and you'll all bring your animals to see me when I'm a veterinarian crazy dog lady with five cats.

Have I mentioned that I regularly question my sanity when I think about what made me decide on this path for my life?


zlionsfan said...

blah blah blah uncomfortable with success blah blah blah.

At some point, you'll have to explain to people why you try the way you do. It's okay. Most of them are not trying to get into vet school. They won't feel bad for you trying to get an A.

AnnD said...

I must agree with zlionsfan. I think it is perfectly appropriate to just explain your reasoning. You are clearly not trying to rub people's faces in it!

Candace said...

We live in a capitalistic society, it SHOULD be OK to succeed and if people are unhappy with it tell them to suck it up. Your success doesn't have anything to do with their ability or desire to succeed. They just like to wallow in averageness. You are not average, celebrate your ability to get a B- when everyone else is failing. Work toward that A you deserve and can achieve!

Moore said...

As you know, I don't get why you have that concern. I'm sure she's a swell girl and all, but if she wants the grades you receive in this subject, she should study harder. If that doesn't work, perhaps she should consider a less challenging class, curriculum, or potential career. Few of us are good at everything.

ems said...

I am not uncomfortable with success. Believe me, if I get into vet school, we're all going on a celebration cruise.

What I am uncomfortable with is people thinking I'm insane for being disappointed with a B. I mean, in a class where everyone else is getting A's, people understand my disappointment with B's. But in a class where people are getting 50s and 60s, they don't understand why I would be upset with a 70 (for example.) My "scale" is different. So I'll just shut up about it, and crow to you guys. Obviously I'm not afraid to sing my own praises...