So, you’ve read a lot of blog posts about how I’ve grown into this kinda effffed up person….. but, I finally have a reverse of that! I never thought I would see the day, but here we go. I outgrew (idk if that’s the right verb, but stick with me, okay?) my test anxiety.
When I was in high school I used to make tests my bitch, for lack of a better term, of course. I didn’t crack a textbook, but I was just so positive that I knew what the fuck I was doing that I didn’t sweat it. When I went to college, I got a pretty rude awakening in not knowing how to organize notes, study, all that jazz. My first college exam I thought I was going to pass out. You know that rumor that if someone dies in your exam period, you get an A for the semester? I was actually looking around like “These lucky bastards, I’m gonna keel over and they’re going to ace Comparative Politics.” Sure, there was more material and it was harder, but the problem wasn’t my intellect. The problem that I no longer believed that I could make the tests my bitch.
Suddenly it wasn’t just the grade, it was “I’m not worthy of being in college”, “I’m not worthy of my parent’s pride if I don’t know this multiple choice answer”, “Everyone else in the room knows it, you’re the ONLY one who doesn’t”. Like most of my anxious moments, I can now look back and realize it was irrational, but in the moment, it’s all you can think about it.
I was lucky in the fact that I had a therapist who told me to talk to the disability services on campus. Did you know that test anxiety is considered a disability and most campuses have specific programs to help students who struggle with it?! I didn’t.
I was able to take my test in a small study room. I was given more time. And listen, PEOPLE ACTUALLY DID THIS FOR THIS FOR THEMSELVES.
One good thing about my transfer was that I was forced to give a shit about myself. I was kind of forced to either care about my academics or sulk in the fact that I was alone and hitting rock bottom. So, even if I didn’t necessarily feel confident my body or my voice or my life, the first thing I was confident about was my brain. For so long, my brain had gotten me through classes without a second thought… because I let it. I let myself believe that I was the shit. I allowed positive thoughts in about my intelligence, knowledge, and logic when I was taking tests.
Most importantly though, I DIDN’T CARE. I know that this seems really counterproductive. But, I knew I was going to graduate. I knew I was probably going to get an A in the class in the end…so the test didn’t really make me lose a ton of sleep at night. At that, is what I lost when I went to college.
I mean, truly, what was the worst that could have happened? I had to take the class again? Yeah, that would have sucked – and guess what, that did happen!!! I’m still sitting here typing a blog, getting ready to graduate and hold two Bachelor’s degrees in 5 days. It didn’t kill me. I failed so many of my Intro to Psych tests because of my anxiety that I failed the class, but walking into the class when I retook it, I realized just how much it didn’t matter. It got replaced on my transcript. I had a quick cry for the hours of studying and money I put into the class. Life went on.
This semester, I’ve absolutely needed every single one of my classes to graduate. I would still say this is the semester I have the been the most chill about tests though. Every time I walk into a test shitting my pants about it half-asleep from an all nighter of studying, it never goes well. Truthfully, you can ONLY do your best and that’s all you can expect of yourself. If the information didn’t stick or maybe you didn’t get your butt to class, you might pay the price – AND THAT’S OKAY! I walked into every single test with the most negative thoughts about myself, so of course I’m going to convince myself I don’t know it. With this new approach, though, I’ve started walking in saying that I know it because I already learned it and if I don’t know it right away then I’m smart enough to figure it out. And no matter what, I’m a worthy student, daughter, and person regardless of the percentage of multiple choice answers I get right on a test.
I watched my little brother stress about taking the ACT recently, and vividly remember that terrible feeling. It’s so easy for me to say that “no matter what, it’s not the end of the world”, but sometimes it really does feel like it might be.
So, maybe don’t take it from me. Your brain makes connections that you don’t always even know are there. When you read a question or prompt, it can ignite these little connections so you remember what you learned, read, or talked about. Our minds are so fucking strong and powerful if we just allow them to be. Anxiety is this big slug that tries to block those connects with negative thoughts and insecurities. But pushing through, finding a little confidence in yourself, and letting go of what you can’t control is SO empowering.
SO, happy finals/end of the semester, my loves! Even if you feel like you can’t do it, your brain and I both know that you can!