Reality Check—by Jamie Levine
Last week was really rough for me. Sure, I’ve found this entire semester to be quite stressful, but last week really put me over the edge; It was finals week and I had three finals, which meant that compulsive-me, who desperately wanted to retain my 4.0, put myself under a ridiculous amount of pressure. My first final (in Anatomy and Physiology of Speech) turned out to be an absolute horror—one of the most difficult tests I’ve ever taken—and I had actually studied like a maniac for it. The moment I walked out of it, I was in a panic over what it might have done to my class average. I knew final #2 (Hearing Science) would be more straightforward, but I was still worried about retaining my A+ in that class, and couldn’t relax. And forget final #3 (Language Acquisition); there was so much material I needed to study (after I’d finished my other two finals—and only had two days in which to cram), that I was certain I’d never ace it, and put myself in a frenzy.
Suffice to say, I scored a 94% on my first final and 100% on the second; I don’t know how I performed on final #3, but I decided the day before I took that exam that it didn’t really matter to me any more. Because while I was getting worked up over that one crazy test—after an entire semester of working my butt off for straight A’s and sometimes thinking about nothing else—my father was in the hospital getting a biopsy, and Library Guy was suffering through week #3 of a debilitating illness. As I found myself consumed with worry over my loved ones, and still struggling to remember the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, a good friend of mine (who is as compulsively-crazy about getting straight-A’s as I am) gave me a lecture about “the important things in life”—that being my family and my boyfriend—not one stupid test. And I’m glad she showed me the light.
So, instead of cramming for my final final, I went and spent some time with Library Guy—and then I enjoyed an evening with my daughter, Jayda. I took some deep breaths and hoped for the best, and went into my last final hoping I’d score decently—but not obsessed with earning an A. And it felt good. Because while getting high grades is important to me, and I’ll always work hard and care about school, my classes shouldn’t stress me out as much as they did this semester—or make me lose sight of all the wonderful things I have going for me in my life.
Thankfully, my dad turned out to be fine, and, as he has always been my greatest advocate when it comes to my educational endeavors, it would be nice if I wasn’t an uptight ball of stress whenever school is in session and I’m around him. And Library Guy, too, is finally getting better, which makes me immensely happy. Witnessing him being so sick for so long, and feeling desperate to help him throughout his illness, made me realize how much I truly care about him and how important he is to me; fortunately, he feels the same way. And then there’s Jayda—the true love of my life. Throughout this semester, she coped with me gluing myself to a text book whenever I could get her to busy herself with coloring, TV-watching, or another independent activity before school. She wasn’t always the focus of my attention…and maybe she should have been. Fortunately, my daughter still adores me; just last night, she told me I was the “best mommy in the world” (after which she informed me that I “have the best boobies in the world,” so I guess she really does think I’m spectacular!). And having Jayda’s love and devotion is what really matters in the grand scheme of things.
I have six weeks off until my spring semester at school begins, and I’m hoping this winter break will help me continue to keep things in perspective. My grad school applications have been submitted, my average is at or near a 4.0, and my love- and family life is really good. I need this break to focus on me and my loved ones…and not worry so much about performing flawlessly in school. A perfect G.P.A. doesn’t mean true happiness…it’s having great friends and family who appreciate me that does.