questioning my perception

“Bleurgh, I do not feel like studying. All I want to do is sleep.” you mope to yourself. And you do. For several hours you are dead to the world, oblivious to the many things you have to do do. Like study for tomorrow’s test. Or start that assignment. But right now, the pressure is getting to you, so you avoid everything and just nap. And when you are incapable of any more sleep, there are always movies to occupy your time (and your mind). Finally, after managing to slog through a whole day of this, you give yourself over to the night.

Upon waking, you realise that the test is in one hour. “Shit, shit, shit”. You tumble out of bed, and blearily force yourself through the motions of showering, putting on make-up and searching for appropriate footwear. Hastily, you grab your laptop, and open it on the kitchen table. Mumbling something or other about variables and field research (the topic of today’s test) you rush through preparing your breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. When, finally, after 10 minutes of stirring and arranging, it is edible, you clunk it down on the table and collapse into a chair. The time is 8:15am, you have to leave in 5 minutes. With searing pain exploding all around your mouth, you shovel the steaming apple-peanut butter goodness into your mouth. But you don’t have time to taste it, you barely have time to scan the lecture notes opened in Microsoft Word in front of you. Oh, crap. It’s time to go. You just pray that whatever knowledge you gained from attempting this subject for a few weeks last year and your scattered attendance this year has seeped in enough for you to scrape by.

How is it that sometimes when we are so unprepared, we can still do well? And yet other times, we can study our brains into a coma but we still barely scrape by with a pass? It’s not a person to person thing – it’s a test to test thing, for I’m pretty sure this happens to everyone. In high school, we were so eager to fall into one category or the other – the “I don’t need to study, I can make good grades anyway” or the “I study very hard and it pays off”. But, truthfully, we are both. Or neither.

I got my marks back today from a test where I did not think I did stellar. And yet, I managed to score a number that I would have been pleased with even if I had studied really hard. The scenario above was how my study went – not at all, really. I walked out of the test hoping I hadn’t messed up anything too obvious, and thinking I’d be happy with something in the range of 50%-60%.

But I got more, and now I wonder whether my perception of my performance was wrong. I never figured out an accurate judge of performance – in school I was convinced that when I walked out feeling like I aced it, it spelt failure for sure (and vice versa). But then I had a few in-class essays and SACs where I sauntered out and still got the grades I wanted. Come university time, I was permanently unsure, and my marks were all over the place.

So, when asked how I felt I did on a test, I now respond with a simple “I don’t know”. But my lack of perception in my performance in this instance certainly makes me question my perceptions of how I compare in others.

Maybe I do see myself wrong, or maybe it’s just that life is so unpredictable that trying to find a system of determining success before the judgement call is futile.

English: stamp with the words "Fail"...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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