Pressure May Vary

More often than not, I feel like things that surprise me really shouldn’t. In my defense, I have good reason for expecting the worst.

It turns out instead of taking the exam as soon as we can, our teacher recommends we not take it until we finish our last class unless we feel confident we can take it right now. Yes, instead of shouting “believe in yourself” over and over, a real teacher told us not to rush and wait until we feel we’re ready for it. We don’t have to read the entire textbook. He suggests we do because it can only help, but it won’t be a tragedy if we skip over something we already have a good grasp on, like half a chapter about how to create, move, and rename files. I don’t need a detailed how-to guide on something I’ve been doing since my age was in the single digits.

In short, a lot of the pressure I was felt was self-induced. Granted, like my cynicism, there’s reason for that, but it seems like I continually struggle to remember I don’t have to learn the same way everyone else does. I can study in the way the works best for me and go at my own pace. Even MLP had an (surprisingly good) episode about that. I don’t try to be different, but I think trying to be the same is part of what causes me these problems to begin with.

I’ve begun playing around with some practice tests. The site I used allows the user to customize the test instead of take it with every question about every topic thrown together. To my ridiculous surprise, I did well when I tested against things I read about and I can now study what I’m struggling with that wasn’t yet covered in my classes so far, or wasn’t covered much. I also managed to answer 20 to 25 questions in 7 minutes without knowing the answer to all of them. Maybe 90 questions in 90 minutes isn’t so intimidating.

I’ll eat my words later, but for now, it’s nice to feel less pressured about everything.

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Or Maybe Not

I guess there’s a reason for the expression that you are your own worst critic.

I got a big surprise when, at my school’s brief award ceremony, I was given two awards! One was for perfect attendance while the other was for having a 4.0 GPA. Perfect attendance is easy for me, though I still very much appreciate the award. On the other hand, I have never had a 4.0 GPA in my life! I really cannot believe it and I am so stunned! And I am not a flawless student, as I think my last post makes evident. Yet, somehow, I achieved that! I really do not have words. My whole day has been made!

My school award certificates! School name, my real name, and signature of the director have been omitted.

I Failed

At life.

One of the goals of my school is preparing students to take a certain exam. It’s not a school exam! It’s actually a… government one? I’m unsure how to describe it without giving away the name, but it’s essentially proof someone is certified to work in the field we’re training for and is recognized nationally.

I have recently decided I am not taking it.

I have studied, and I’ve found it does no good. I can be asked a question right after I have finished reading a whole chapter and be unable to recall what the question even pertains to, let alone answer it correctly. There are practice exams for the real one. I tried one. I didn’t know the answer to any of the questions, despite reading enough material that would’ve covered it. I didn’t bother going through the whole practice test. I closed it after question 7.

We do get a certificate from the school. I think I’m going to take that and go, and try to do the best I can with that. I am not academic material. I think I figured that out a long time ago, but I assumed that’s because I hated school to begin with. I genuinely like this school and I do study, and I am still terrible. There is zero chance of me passing the real exam, and since it’s only free the first time around (school provides a voucher), I don’t exactly have unlimited chances to pass. I’d rather not take it at all, and no, I am not going to “wing it” in the hopes the planets will align and grant me a passing score. I like fairytales. I am not dumb enough to believe in them.

Supposedly, you’re not supposed to memorize material you study. That concept makes zero sense to me. Why would you study it if you didn’t want to remember it? The point of studying is to be able to retain enough information to pass whatever tests you need to pass.

That exam is also timed. Ninety minutes to answer ninety questions. Even if I had a chance of passing, the time limit would kill me.

This isn’t Disney. “Positive thinking” and “believe in yourself” does not work. I don’t think even Disney has ever been that shallow. Of course, if those things did work, “hard work” would be non-existent since everyone would be successful with no more than merely thinking of it, meaning no one would have to work for anything. Don’t people complain my generation only wants things handed to them anyway? “Think positive” seems to prove them right.

My vent is over. And so are my chances.

Eighteen Versus Twenty-Four

I’m almost finished with my first class of trade school. I even finished the final project already. Despite my anxiety about the next course, I am glad this first one is almost over. Though, I’m disappointed I genuinely struggled with the “Student Success” half of it. Of course, I attended trade school to avoid such classes, but four weeks is better than two years of them.

One thing I hate my high school for is making life sound so black and white. They pushed the idea everyone who is successful goes to college, that there’s no other way, that there’s no excuse not to go, that community college is a waste (it was referred to as “the 13th grade”), and that all incoming college students were our age. What a load of trash. And I say that with zero fondness for community college.

I’m still getting over the feeling of being an “older” student, but I must admit I think I’m doing well because I’m not 18 years old in college. While I went to college for bad reasons to begin with (family pressure), there was more to it than that. I was also burned out from 14 years of mandatory schooling since the age of 5. Birth, if you count daycare, preschool, and head start. I didn’t want to go to any school anymore! I wanted to work, make some money, and go to college later! Obviously, that plan fell apart and I despise retail with an intensity that matches the sun’s, but I don’t regret it. I had more freedom as an uneducated part-time retail worker than as a jobless college student. If I had the personality for retail to be a lifelong career, I’d go for it and never have chosen to return to school. Unfortunately, being an introvert means that’s the equivalent of hell.

Having some years off of school let me have some experiences I couldn’t do while in school. And while not all of them were pleasant, it was still a nice, long break from being confined to one place for nine hours. It’s insanely ironic how being surrounded by hundreds of people for over a decade of your life can turn you into a misanthrope. I think my preschool self who was happier building blocks alone than being forced to “make friends” was on to something.

Experiencing something besides school (and bullying) let me feel more motivated and focused when I returned to school. Sure, I still have my grievances. I hate having to wake up at 6 AM and I wish I could’ve stayed with the first group of classmates I started with. But unlike my mandatory school days, schoolwork is not my life. It’s part of it, but I’m not forced to make it all of it. Again, the irony is insane. I get my schoolwork out of the way as quickly (and meticulously) as I can, to the point I will work through lunch to finish it. High school and under? Classwork and schoolwork was a battle to get me to finish if I wasn’t interested in the subject. I know some people do well under pressure, but I think I’m proving time and again I’m not one of them. It seems I do well when the pressure is off. That, and when I feel what I’m doing is worth my while. I still remember almost nothing I learned in high school, and what I do remember is limited to the Italian and French classes I took.

So, I don’t mind being a “non-traditional” student, as it’s called. I’m actually glad I can pay for my own schooling. It means no one needs to keep tabs on it besides me. Want to know my grades? None of your business!

Hope Is Wasted On The Hopeless

In three days, I return to school. After all of the nonsense that happened, I should be happy to return, especially since I don’t have to pay as much as I initially did. The key word in that sentence is should.

I should be happy. But I’m not.

To pay off what financial aid did not cover, I have to make monthly payments, the first of which was due on the day I start school. Unfortunately, the time between receiving that balance and its due date were too close. While I have savings for this kind of expense, I’d rather not use it if I can help it. The result was I split the payment between my most recent paycheck and one of my credit cards.

I can pay the credit card off. There’ll be interest, but what that will amount to is barely a pinch in comparison. At the same time, this is the first instance I’ve put a large purchase on one of my credit cards. And since I’m still paying off a medical expense, it wasn’t really something I wanted to do. There was no option I wanted to do.

I’m not happy. I’m worried. I’m sad. I’m afraid. I’m frustrated.

The looming question in my mind, the one that stands over me like a collapsing tower, is: Is it worth it?

I have to hope it is, but debt, however necessary it may be, is never fun to owe. Putting any part of the payment on my credit card was a one-time thing. That I had to do it to begin with makes me hope completing this school is worthwhile, but fear more and more it won’t be. Excitement and fear are not two emotions that can mix within me. One kicks the other out, and in this case, fear has sent excitement packing. I feel unnatural as it is, being someone who’s just starting school while everyone else is graduating (two of my friends from high school graduated with their bachelor’s – one in chemical engineering, the other in psychology – just days ago), so more than anything, I want my time and money toward this school to prove to be worth the debt. Worth the stress, the tiredness, the temporary smacks to my credit score. But, admittedly, mostly worth the debt.

I won’t know if it’s worth it until the end. I have to hope it is. I have to believe it will be.

But I don’t know if I can!