Posted on December 4, 2011


I have been sick this whole week.  I wasn’t looking forward to taking the mid-program exam whilst feeling so crumby.  But… illness doesn’t discriminate in her choosing when to visit.  The night before the test, I had a hard time getting to sleep.  I forced myself to go to bed after a long day of studying.  I fell asleep watching Ren and Stimpy.  Tossed and turned all night.  Woke up at 5am.  Could not get back to sleep.  Not only because I had a fierce headache, but I started thinking about the daunting day ahead of me.  I laid in bed for half an hour, trying to get as many needed nuggets of sleep as I could.  No dice.  So I gave up trying and decided to get an early start.

I woke with this song in my head:

so I figured I wasn’t off to such a bad start.  I mean, despite my terrible, nagging headache, my inability to breathe through my nose, my incessant coughing and the fact that I had to soon enter the Cave of Doom to take a monster test; I had a happy song in my head.  That’s gotta say something, right?  Right?  *blank stare*

I was the first to arrive and was waiting outside the lounge door for faculty to come along and unlock it for me.  Other students started trickling in.  We all looked like the lobsters in the tank at the seafood restaurant, waiting for our imminent demise.  My favourite teacher came in and unlocked the door.  He was dressed casually.  I noticed later that the other teachers, too, were dressed informally.  It felt like “opposite day”, because they all told us we should dress professionally.

The staff had bought us water, sweeties and snacks.  I was truly touched.  They were rooting for us and wished for us all to do well.

We sat in the lounge together, chatting.  Waiting.  Watching other students arrive and join.  There was excitement in the air.  Tension.  Nervousness.  Optimism.  Capitulation.  Spirituality.  Some prayed.

As it neared testing time, we got jumpy.  Antsy.  We had to wait to be called into the room.  …Pah! – It was time!  As we walked to our ruin, we got louder and cheered and tried to psych ourselves up.  A small group of us put our hands together in a huddle “annnnnd break!”  As we walked into the room, all the teachers from the department were lined up on either side with their hands up for high fives, cheering us on (If nothing else, we had a strong support from each other and our teachers).  My palms were moist.  I found a seat next to my buddy.  We were going to get through this together.  There were more sweeties and bottles of water on each table.  They really took care of us.

Then it started. *pause* ….. *stare* ….. IT. Started. @_o  You’d think multiple choice would be easy.  Think again.  But somehow, I survived.  After this section, we got out of the room, were able to take a short break and move on to the next portion.  This was the part I was dreading.  Like, really dreading.  I prepared myself and then waited outside the room for my turn.  A classmate exited the room and was asked how she felt.  She answered, “I wanna go home and die.”  I laughed.  I thought, “Oh she’s so silly.  That’s classic HER!  She’s a funny one. La-la-la!”  …. I had no idea I would soon feel exactly the same way.

My time came and I sat as the assistant prepared everything for me.  She left and I felt like I looked like:

I started to feel my muscles tighten.  My shoulders pulled up to what felt like could have been my ears.  Small tremors shook me.  And I stared.  I tried to look casual, like I wasn’t terrified and this was just like any other test.  It wasn’t.  I doubt I looked anything like casual. My hands shook as I picked them up to start testing.

I felt my bra strap fall off my shoulder under my increasingly moistening shirt.  I was being watched. I spent the remainder of the testing time with it down.

I was very aware and conscious of the things I did wrong.  I was too nervous to do it right.  I had worked myself up so much over this test, my nerves were not allowing me to think clearly.  The voice in my head was constantly talking to me.  Fortunately, it was being encouraging and kind.  It wasn’t yelling at me like a drill sergeant, telling me I’m a maggot and what am I doing here?  No, my voice was telling me that if I would just calm down, I would do fine.  It was telling me that I know this material.  It told me again to relax.  I listened to its advice… briefly.  It got me through a small portion until I started getting worked up and flustered again.  The voice came back to try to calm me.  I tried to listen, but I made myself increasingly nervous with each mistake and it was a losing battle.

Finally, I finished.  I stepped out of the room and walked down the hall.  I spotted another classmate, sitting out there, waiting his turn.  He made a remark that I can’t even remember for all that just happened to me.  I couldn’t say anything to him, so as not to freak him out.  I only gave him an encouraging smile (though I’m pretty sure he saw the dread, doom and fear in my eyes and my smile was so completely fake) and gave him a thumb up as I kept walking past him and down the hall.  I was a dead girl walking.  The moments in the room kept flashing in my head repeatedly.  Everything I missed, all the things I was uncertain about, how poorly I performed overall.

I got back to the lounge for a one-and-a-half hour [lunch]  break before finishing up the test.  Most of the other testers were in there.  It looked like a funeral parlour.  Students sitting rigidly here and there.  In groups, talking about how they thought they did.  Talking about anything but the test, just to get their minds off of how they thought they did.  Some were eating, some were not (I couldn’t).  I found a friendly face, one of my classmates.  She asked me how it went.  I started talking to her about how I felt I did.  I had only worries and concerns.  We sat together and talked.  Uncontrollably, I started crying.  I was embarrassed and felt kinda silly.  But no one felt anything but concern and understanding.  We were all in the same boat.

I began talking with the friend who said she wanted to go home and die.  I told her I understood why she said that and I now felt the same way.  We cried and then laughed together.  Boy, did we laugh!  We hit hysterics.  Sad/funny thing is: at one point, I wasn’t sure if I was laughing or crying.  I felt everything rush me at once.  Hilarity, comradery, stress, uncertainty, worry, sadness, relief.  And I laughed so hard, I cried.  And once the crying started again, it easily flowed.  …I did enjoy my down time in the lounge, joking with her.

The friend I passed in the hall and gave a thumb up to before his time in the room joined us later, eyes red.  I wondered if he’d done the same thing as I.  I didn’t ask, so as not to draw attention to him.  I later found out: after he came out of the room, he tried to socialise, trying to stop thinking about how he did.  It didn’t work and he could feel the lump in his throat, the sting in his eyes; he had to go outside for “some fresh air”.  Once he reached the top of the stairs to go out, he felt the tears coming and immediately took a sharp left turn into the restroom.  He stood in there and cried.  And then he thought, “What if someone walks in?”  So he went into a stall.  He braced himself with his hand against the door and let the tears flow.  That was the most beautiful and real thing I’d heard that day.  I loved his honesty and openness.  And I connected and related.

We were summoned once again to the first room to complete the exam.  I felt like the worst part was out of the way at least, and the remainder of this would be cake.  Wrong again.  Once it started,  I felt like a kid who was used to swimming with those little arm floaties and someone dropped her straight into the deep end without them, expecting her to keep her head above the surface.  But somehow I fudged my way through it adequately.

The test ended and we were let loose.  We stood around outside for a short time, sharing our thoughts.  An intimate group of us decided to go get some more chat time in a better setting.  We hopped over to a nearby coffee shop.  The time I spent there, I must say, was therapeutic.  We had our own little support group and talked through our worries, concerns, fears and nightmares.  I feel as if this tribulation brought us closer together as a coterie.  We were more real with each other and more open and I do believe we bonded.  I will have a good support system in my proceeding classes and, subsequently, my career.

We parted and I didn’t want to sit at home.  I knew they might call me that day to give me the results.  I was hoping so, so I could just get it over with: curl up in a fetal position and die.  But then…. they said that if they didn’t finish grading by the end of the day, we wouldn’t hear anything until next week.  I was in agony.  I decided I deserved a good meal for all I was put through during the day.  So I went out.  Still texting my support system, all of us waiting and nervous.  Then I got a text from one classmate, telling me she passed.  I knew now that I’d get the call tonight.  Now I was on edge.  3 minutes later, my phone rang.  My stomach dropped.  I froze.  I stared at my phone, hearing the grimly chilling single bell toll in my head.  I snapped out of it and answered.  It was one of my teachers.  She got right down to business.  I was cringing, waiting for the blow.  She told me I passed all of my exam and “congratulations”.  I was stunned and thought I heard wrong.  I was so sure I wasn’t going to pass after that debacle in the small room.  I started crying again.  She asked if I wanted to know my grades.  D’doi!  Of course I do.  I was even more shocked to hear how well I did on it.  I murdered that evaluation and I haven’t the foggiest how that happened.  Whatever, I’ll take it. 🙂  Now I have to study for finals.

Posted in: Life, School