The vast majority of the population gets nervous at the thought of having to take and pass a test. There’s usually a lot riding on the outcome of your effort. The tests we’re most familiar with as we grow up are due to a class in school or college and may even be taken using one of those super cool Scantron answer sheets so you can find out quickly just how badly you did. What I have found interesting in my life thus far are not the tests where the results end in a number, but when they end in a lesson that challenges you both morally and emotionally.
I think of these tests, we’ll call them Life Tests, that I’ve had in the past; some I’ve passed and some I’ve failed miserably! Regardless of the outcome, as I look back on them I realized that with each one I learned something – either about myself, the situation, or another person. Now normal tests, like those in school, were always following a lesson. I guess they work that way so you know which kind it is.
Identifying the type has never been the problem for me. I was always a good student and was probably harder on myself than my parents were. I graduated high school with honors, got a college degree, and even earned my teaching certificate. I still enjoy learning about all types of subjects from astronomy to Greek mythology to history. I get a kick out of learning something new as this “mouth of unwanted knowledge” is always looking for more interesting facts to fill up this sponge of a brain of mine. What fascinates me is when I don’t realize I’m in the middle of a Life Test until it’s too late. It’s like those recurring themed dreams I have where I’m in school or college and I have a test or performance that I haven’t prepared for and I’m just expected to “go with the flow” so to say. Those are not very restful nights.
So what happens when a Life Test comes up that rocks you to your core and all you can wonder is “What the hell am I supposed to learn from THIS mess?” We all know that hindsight is always 20/20, but when you’re in the middle of the exam you can’t exactly look around at other people’s Scantron forms for the answer. It’s always something you have to figure for yourself, and sometimes that answer doesn’t come as easily as you would hope. It makes you wish you had a cheat sheet for every Life Test out there that included some secret formula that you could plug the variables into and it would spit out answer. Of course the constant in all of my formulas is me!!…therein lies the problem!
My dad used to tell me that a person could solve their problems by amputating from the neck down. 😉 My problems always come about from the part that’s left over…my brain. I tend to overthink everything in my life. I ask “Why am I feeling this way?” or “Should I be feeling this way?” or “What got me feeling this way?” It’s a constant battle between my brain knowing what the right answer is and my eyes and heart seeing the right answer in time to avoid the veritable cram session that awaits me.
Maybe friends, family, and therapists should really be considered your study partners during these Life Tests. You bounce ideas off of them and they in turn bounce ideas back making you see the lesson through fresh eyes. That new perspective allows you to realize that each time you face something new you have to reinvent the wheel by coming up with a whole new formula specially made for this situation.
Right now I feel like I’m five questions away from finishing up a Life Test that is about 1,000 questions long. I have gotten to the point now where I like to run, but this freakin’ test has felt like I’ve run about 20 marathons, one right after the other. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted and, instead of learning just one lesson, it feels more like I’ve learned and am still learning enough about myself, the situation, and other people to fill a whole college career plus graduate school with medical school tacked onto the end. I’m looking forward to the time when I have the clarity I used to have when I would arrive for a test knowing that I prepared well enough to know everything about the subject being covered. Sadly *sigh*, today isn’t that day, but I’m trying to see this Life Test for what it is – a way to becoming the person I’m supposed to be. I have no idea what that entails, and I feel like I don’t really have any direction, but I can only hope that it’s someone who is stronger, both physically and emotionally, and even more prepared for those times when I haven’t had a chance for a late-night cram session.