I can be so competitive and determined when it comes to school that the slightest question of my intellect (a low score on a test or in a class, a student who does better than me or pulls up the curve, an instructor who corrects me) sometimes sends me into a downward spiral of self-doubt.

Overall, I am not a competitive person. Maybe a little bit with board games. And maybe sometimes at work. And, yes, when Charlie and I are watching Jeopardy! Oh, and with Wii games. I guess when I think of “competition,” I usually think of sports. And I could care less about that.

I’m used to getting really good grades, which sometimes is really easy and sometimes takes a lot of work on my part. And, although I can usually accept a lower grade in a subject I’m not interested in (math, some science courses, or one that was super-duper hard), it still takes some time for me to get over it. When I registered for this semester, I knew I wanted to take a couple of challenging courses, and a couple of gen-ed requirements that I could sort of skate through, giving me more time to focus on the stuff I was interested in.

That plan has come back to bite me in the ass. What I thought was going to be my “easiest” class, a 100-level anthropology requirement, is really an exercise in patience and my comittment to my GPA. Our first test was today and covered only three chapters out of the textbook, plus 6 PowerPoint presentations, one hour-long video, a guide on genetics the instructor created herself, about 30 pages of notes, and an additional 20 pages of study guides.

I only received 40% of the possible points from our homework and, even though I felt “pretty good” leaving the test this morning, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I got a C. I know if you sat down with me and walked through all the material, you’d be like “Well, this does appear to be pretty complicated, so you should just be happy to pass the class.” Charlie was trying to help me study last night and kept asking why the hell this woman expects us to know so much for just one test. But it took me a while to get my GPA up to where it is, after a few of those aforementioned hard courses. I don’t want to screw it up now!

But I know that I’ll have to eventually accept some kind of failure. I just can’t seem to reconcile the part of me that goes, “An education is important, grades shouldn’t be!” And the one that goes, “If you ever want to go to grad school, it’s going to be a helluva lot harder than this!”

My anthropology instructor came up to me in the bathroom before our test on Wednesday and told me how cute she thinks my hair is. I wanted to ask her, if I tell her where to go to get it and how to take care of it, would she at least promise me a B?


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