For my post this month, I decided to share with you guys an excerpt from my journal. No, this isn’t because I’ve been procrastinating writing something and I’m short on time. With finals season rapidly approaching and the academic year just about over, I’ve found myself running into a bit of academic difficulty. Of course, this is the HONORS blog, so I might just be making a fool out of myself in front of a bunch of straight A students who will read this and laugh at my ineptitude, but I feel that I ‘m not alone in this situation. College can be a stressful, daunting place, but I feel that if we share our experiences – both the good and the bad – we can find that we have more in common with each other after all.
“Monday, April 3rd, 2017 10:11 p.m.
I just failed my [managerial] accounting exam. I really just don’t have anything to say about it. I really don’t see how anyone could ever learn to live with such a burning, raging anger mixed with an utter hopelessness borne out of doing so poorly on a test. I literally worked myself up, it happened so quickly. We had 80 minutes to do 24 questions. I don’t remember the first 40 minutes, other than skipping the 2nd and 3rd questions, confidently reassuring myself that I would come back to them. Then it was the 40-minute mark all of a sudden, I think I was on like #9 or 10 and it just went downhill from there. I think, at the discouragement from not being able to figure out a few problems, my brain automatically skipped to the conclusion that I was going to fail (which obviously became a self-fulfilling prophecy) and then the mind conversations started and suddenly I was defending my honor in front of my mother and Aunt Fran, yelling at them that they don’t understand the pressure I’m under to please myself, let alone them, with good grades. Do they realize the extra weight of their expectations and everybody else’s that I have to prove and embody. It’s so hard to live up to these great expectations set for me over these past 19 almost 20 years and how I need to one day be able to bear the medical costs of my rapidly aging parents on day and what happens if I can’t do that… and by the time I realized what I was doing and cut off the train of thought, I was sitting there nearly about to burst into tears. I had to quickly calm myself down, like really quickly, only to find myself having to navigate what was all of a sudden an inconceivable obstacle course of accounting terms and formulas. I definitely had another mini distradown, which is my word for a distraction mixed with a breakdown. The contents of the second one elude me but it was definitely in response to just not being able to get a handle on what the heck was going on.
When I don’t know how to do something outside of a test, I either abandon it (because, and for reasons I don’t want to get into here, I was never really taught the virtue of perseverance and I was always able, growing up, to avoid my problems or at least create the illusion that there was no problem), or, if I can’t avoid it, like when I’m studying for a test, I look at the answer key immediately… or I just skip the problem. In the test I am obviously not allowed that luxury, and it quickly upsets me, as we have seen; and I have to busy myself justifying that upsetness to all who would question it and planning for the future in which I flunk out of the business school and asking myself, ‘Trevor, how the heck did you let this happen to yourself? You know you’re better than this, but you can’t even take an accounting exam properly so are you really even that great?’
I struggle with how to deal with this nagging inner demon, who takes advantage of my short attention span and bombards me with negative thinking and just a whole lot of noise when noise is exactly what I don’t need. I’m also really not used to this feeling because tests usually aren’t so difficult for me (except word problem tests which… wait… end the parenthesis for this)… do I just have this problem with word problem tests? Because I was about to say that this extreme difficulty and the accompanying mental anguish only really has ever happened with math tests, and this semester, those tests were the two accounting and two statistics midterms. Wait, so the fact that your weakest subject is math is not a stunning revelation. But is it specifically an issue with word problems? Because I can memorize and follow a formula great, but it you teach me a difficult math concept and flip it and twist it and turn it inside out into a critical thinking word problem? meep meep runaway road runner style.
So we need to start by stimulating the pressure of the test environment and build our testing muscles here. My hand’s tired and OCD wants me to end with this here.”
The entry was, for the most part, unedited, but I hope that my stream-of-consciousness writing is not to confusing for the readers. At the end of the entry, I had reached the end of the page, which is where that minor OCD kicked in. Also, please don’t be alarmed that I sometimes reference myself as “we.” I do not suffer from schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, I just refer to myself in the plural so that when I reread my journal entries (or in this case, share them with other people) it accounts for the audience.
Speaking of journal entries, I really recommend that people get journals and write in them whenever they feel the need. They are like a friend that you can pour all your darkest secrets into and not fear them telling everyone. I’m also very scatterbrained, and it usually helps me get most or all of my thoughts onto a canvas, where I can go back and observe what’s happened to me over this crazy life. And, as you guys saw in the last paragraphs of the entry, it even helps me come to some sort of solution to my problems. Anyway, I hope that by sharing my experience of failure, that I’ve helped show people that it happens from time to time, and that it doesn’t just happen to them. Good luck on finals, everyone! I’ll be studying extra hard this time.