The Illusive A+
I was losing control. I searched, but my mind was blank and my A+ was dwindling at my fingertips. I felt a bead of sweat forming on my temple as it began its trail downward, just like my grade, but I couldn’t wipe my head. I was too afraid to move my eyes, let alone a muscle from the timed test of my knowledge in front of me. I’d breezed through the practice exams with too much confidence last night and it was evident. Coming in, I truly felt that I’d make nothing short of a 100 on my exam. This stuff was easy. Computer 102 hadn’t been a match for me all semester so by the time this mid-term rolled around, I felt more than prepared. Yet, there I sat, my ego, sullied by defeat, which I could handle. It was my average I was upset about.
45 questions and I missed my first one at 39. What a pinch of the skin. Still, I straightened my back and continued forward with the notion that I am not, nor do I try to be, perfect. When I missed another question, I said to myself, “Well, an A+ is an A+. And when I missed another, I said, “Well, an A is an A.” By this time though, I’d began trying to control my foot from tapping.
I just couldn’t recall those damn answers, and I tried really hard too, taking my sweet, sweet time with the last attempts at my flagged questions. But when I missed two more, I had no choice but to accept a B+ as my fate. Must’ve been the one part I skipped, I thought, considering I’d covered about 90% of the material the night prior. I truly felt prepared. And when I walked out of my exam with a humble 88, I fought back tears the entire walk to my car and lost several times. I remembered the first time I’d felt this way, my chest tight with fury, and nowhere to put it; no one to blame but myself…
I was in first grade. It was a spelling test, one I just knew I’d ace because, that’s what I’d done to them all. It was kind of my thing. Completely slicing my way through the letters of the English language, my memory a machete, until the unfortunate day I met my match. I don’t remember what the word was, but I also couldn’t remember how to spell it either, earning me my very first grade that was lower than a 100. A 95. I burst into tears, right there in front of everyone when I saw what was written at the top of my spelling test, my teacher thrown into disarray, assuring me that a 95 was nothing to be upset about. That it was a good grade. But it wasn’t a hundred. Don’t worry, I’ve addressed this situation in therapy and have since come to understand my childhood fear of disappointing my mother. Today, my question is, who the fuck am I afraid of now?
The next time you make a bad grade, or don’t do as well as you feel you could’ve on somebody’s exam…
Give yourself some grace.
It will be okay.