Today began my foray into academia. Last night I felt as nervous about taking a GED preparation class as if I were going to be giving myself brain surgery. Will I still be able to learn? Should I just cram and take the test instead? Am I wasting time? Am I good enough to get through a class, let alone the actual test? Why should I even bother? I should just give up now before I prove myself a failure.
As I was preparing for my “first day of school,” I went looking for a notebook to take to class with me. As I rifled through the few cardboard boxes that now contain all of my worldly possessions, The front cover of a notebook fell open. This notebook was given to me by a friend almost 14 years ago. On the first page, the friend had written the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost Somehow, through countless moves and shedding of possessions, this notebook has remained.
Finding "The Road Not Taken" seemed to boost my confidence. It felt like the universe was trying to tell me something, especially considering my last post, Going Back to Get On Track, in which I'd decided I was going to take the path I wish I'd taken years before. I decided I could make it to the first class.
I knew the answer the first time I read the question. I circled the answer, and before my pencil left the paper, I was doubting myself. Why did we have to start the class with a test when I was already anxious? The question was ambiguous, two of the answers were plausible. I erased my choice, choosing the second plausible option. I went on to the next question, but couldn’t concentrate on it because I was still worrying about the previous question. I went back, erased my choice, and chose the original. I went on with the rest of the test and when I completed the last question, there was time left, so I went back to the ambiguous question and changed it one last time to the 2nd choice.
Following the test, there was a break. On break, I went over the ambiguous question in my head. I had a fleeting thought that I needed to go to the teacher and explain myself, to tell her that I thought both options were valid. I stayed and smoked my cigarette. In my nervousness, I pulled out the notebook and reread the poem. The tests were graded by the time I got back from break. I had chosen the wrong answer to the ambiguous question. I felt like a failure. Why didn't I trust my first instinct?
As I was waiting for the bus after class, my anxiety level was in the red zone. "I can't handle this," kept running through my mind. For no particular reason, I took out the notebook and thumbed through the blank pages. I'd never used it as a notebook, so imagine my surprise when I found that I had written something in it years ago.
There are no mistakes. There are only results. This was a quote from Dr. Coldwell's book, "The Only Answer to Stress, Anxiety, and Depression" that I had read several years ago. I don't know what prompted me to write this, but again, it felt like the universe was delivering me a message at exactly the right time.
I doubted my instincts, and I answered a question incorrectly. It seemed like a huge mistake when I looked at the X left by the teacher to indicate it was wrong. Now it looks like a good lesson. Trust your intuition.
I'm going back to class tomorrow. I might just make it through this after all.