I think that things are going to be okay. Of course, there are those who will sit back and nod sagely and claim that they always knew it was going to be okay, that everything would be just fine, and that it’s in my nature to exaggerate these crises until they’re too much for me to handle, and I’m naturally overwhelmed.
(It’s been a rough week. I think I’m going to lift my usual language ban and use some of the colorful language I perfected while roleplaying Charlie Duke. I’m sure someone somewhere will be suitable horrified, but… eh. So what.)
Those who claim that this is just a spot of test anxiety aren’t completely aware of what a panic attack truly is, how utterly immobilizing it can be, and how the after-effects of that kind of episode can mess with you, both physically and psychologically. Test anxiety, for the uninitiated and/or obtuse, happens only when you are faced with a test. It is incredibly situational, and it resolves in the absence of the test. What I dealt with this week wasn’t test anxiety; it was far beyond that, and I think I was able to help my professors understand that.
One of my professors told me a little more about the conversation that the three of them had, and the comment came up that I never dive into the shallow end of a topic. Instead, I hit the topic hard and immediately seek a deep understanding and a thorough knowledge of the material. I can’t be satisfied with knowing just a little or just “getting the gist” of a concept. I have to be firmly rooted in the theory and background in order to fully enjoy the learning and the connections that come from understanding the material. If I don’t have those connections, I can’t say that I “know” the material. Since those connections aren’t there yet for me (and they won’t be there in ten days) then I can’t say that I know the material.
They still all think that I know everything that I need for the exam, but I countered with the argument that someone else’s claim about my knowledge doesn’t make much of a difference if my self-efficacy isn’t there. They agreed, and they (again) cautioned that I not lose sight of my studies. The professor in charge of my readings class told me that, after I’d had a chance to calm down and refocus, I should put together a schedule to stay on top of my studies and not lose that information. I agreed and tried to offer that I’m used to self-discipline with long-term projects, but… well, a lot of people who defer comps don’t come back to take them. I can appreciate the concern, so I’m putting measures in place to make sure that I create a schedule between now and September (and now to January, depending upon when I am allowed to take the comps) to get the amount of studying done that I feel that I need in order to do well.
My coworkers were understanding… like, really understanding. Like, they knew that I had a lot of responsibilities, and that it was okay for me to step back and take some time. I told some of my students, and they seemed to get it. A few who had seen me studying knew that I had spent a lot of time on it, and they asked what had happened. I told them that I had to put my health first, that I couldn’t ignore my job and just focus on school, and that I couldn’t neglect my family. One of my students came by because he had come in late for class on Wednesday, and he had seen me run out after class was done. I admitted that it wasn’t my best day, and I told him about my comps, and how if I’d pushed myself, I’d have set a poor example for my students.
Honesty goes a long way with students.
My department head nominated to be a representative for the department for the graduate student advisory board. I got that email this afternoon, which was a pleasant shock. I talked with him via phone, and again… I think things are going to be all right. I’ve had a few moments of self-doubt, and it’s still very hard for me to sit and relax. Hopefully, things will get better with time.
And, thank you to those who commented on the previous post. It meant a lot, and it’s definitely helped me realize what’s important.