Start Winning in Life
If you want to start winning in life, you need to look at disappointment in a whole new light. Disappointment. Everyone has suffered from it. It sweeps in like a tide, ebbing and flowing, leaving us a little unbalanced and beaten from its swift and mighty force. The feeling of disappointment sucks and can derail a person very quickly.
I think the worst disappointment came to me about twenty years ago when I first graduated college as an undergrad. I had this idea that I wanted to go to grad school and pursue a Ph.D. so that I could teach communications in college.
The Path to Start Winning
A professor impressed this idea in my brain. I’ve always been that kind of person who wants to please others and prove to them and myself that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. So, I began visiting universities up and down the east coast of the United States. I did so to determine if their program was one in which I wanted to enroll.
I narrowed my choices down to a few in Florida. In love with the tropical vibe, I could see myself basking in the warmth, book in hand. Also, I loved that I could ride my bike to classes, even in the middle of January if I wanted. Such great reasons to enroll in a demanding masters and doctoral program, of course. I really wanted to start winning.
Kick in the Butt
Anyway, right before I started my research into schools, I started working at a financial firm. How did that go? Well, let’s just say, I’d rather suffer with the flu than sit in a cubicle wearing a headset consoling angry shareholders!
This disdain towards my job only fed my hunger to ace the Graduate Record Exam. If I did that, I had a good chance to land a full ride waiver on my tuition. I’d earn my spot in a very competitive teacher assistance program.
My GRE’s had to be superb. So, never deterred from a good challenge, and having just graduated Summa cum lade from Rhode Island College, I thought piece of cake. My future is about to unfold! Without giving anything else a thought, I put everything into this dream towards a Ph.D.
Total Serious Mode to Start Winning
I committed to studying for the GRE’s four hours every single day before going to my full time job. I purchased an exam prep book and got serious. For six months straight, I studied, taking those practice tests over and over again. I aimed to raise my score each time, a score that sat pretty low. Frustrated, I kept at it, insistent that I would ace this exam no matter what it took. I set a goal and I was going to start winning, dammit.
So, as the exam date neared, I upped my studying time to six hours a day.
When the day arrived, my stomach knotted. I couldn’t eat and couldn’t sleep the night before.
I drove to the exam location with the weight of my hefty goal on my shoulders. It sucked the air right out of my lungs. I walked into that exam room nauseous and dizzy, trembling like I was facing a death squad.
Ready or Not
Well, the exam began whether I was ready for it or not. It was timed. That timer sat in the top right hand corner of that screen and tortured me. I raced against the minutes, attempting to clear my mind so I could think. The past six months of my life poked at me. All the effort I put into preparing, the sacrifices to my spouse, to my family, to my health, to my freaking life, crashed down on me.
I panicked. Sitting in that chair, I trembled and guessed my way through the entire exam. My mind couldn’t think strategically, methodically, productively. It couldn’t think at all. I had pressured myself to the point of a breakdown in that room. I failed the exam miserably. Not just by small standards. Oh no, absolutely miserably. My plan to start winning faded. I would have to wait another three months to take the exam again.
My goal of getting a teacher assistantship, actually even getting accepted into a graduate program, died. It died right there in that bright room with its unforgiving fluorescent lights and deafening hum.
I felt like the world’s biggest failure. Embarrassed and disappointed, I hung my head in shame. Thinking back now, I wasn’t too far removed from my character, Faith, in The Curvy Side of Life, hitting one of those major curves in life.
I wanted to prove I could set my mind to anything and do it. And, then I failed. What would I say to my spouse, my parents, and my friends? How would they think of me? I always worried about what everyone else would think of me.
Anyway, I had no idea what I would do with the rest of my life. I hated my job. And, quite frankly, I had put so much time into this venture, it hurt to let it go. To witness it shrivel up before my eyes and fall to the ground in a pile of dust killed me. I thought my life was over.
Wishing you the very best,
Suzie Carr, novelist