I have a random talent for doing well on tests. Often when I truly don't deserve it. It's actually a curse (really!) because it lulls me into complacency and bad study habits. And I've had this niggling fear in the back of my mind for over a decade that I would someday, somehow pay for my undeserved successes. That when I most needed to score well on a test, the universe would release a veritable flood of bad karma to bring "balance" to my test-taking life.
I'm not normally superstitious (though Jay will tell you that I'm still scared of monsters under the bed), but the stakes were high enough that I was terrified of even the mental image of vengeful test-taking gods. See, I put off taking this test until the last possible minute. Second, really. This was the last day I could take the test and get the results back before graduation. Meaning that if I did not pass, I wouldn't be graduating on time. Which is a big deal, since I'm so trunky for graduation I can hardly stand it.
The test was on a Saturday morning; "call time" was 10:45. I'm not sure who's in charge of scheduling this test, but, as someone who is completely nonfunctional in the morning, I wanted to kiss them. My brain actually had a chance.
I woke up that morning feeling refreshed and relaxed. I took my time getting ready, stopped by a friend's house to borrow a watch since mine died and Jay refuses to wear one (thanks, Shannon!), and drove to St. Mary's. Jay had driven with me the night before to help me mentally map out the route; I wanted no surprises or problems finding where I was supposed to be.
As I drove, instead of feeling the expected nervousness or apprehension, I was overcome by a wave of exhilaration and gratitude. I'm not a fantastic goal-setter, but I remember being eight years old and deciding I would get a master's degree. Mom got one, I reasoned, so I would, too. Taking the Praxis test felt like the culmination of years of work that had all led up to this point.
My emotions began to build as I ran through a mental list of some of my blessings:
- I am a woman in America in 2010. I could have set my sights on any profession requiring any level of education, and it would have been attainable. Even as recently as 50 years ago, that wouldn't have been the case.
- I have parents who both have graduate degrees and who instilled in me love and value of education.
- I have a bright mind.
- I have a husband who is incredibly supportive of my desire to make what I can of myself through schooling and a career.
- I'm attending graduate school, and I'm nearly finished.
- It should have been impossible for me to make it into this program--the application deadline was February 1st, and I applied on a whim in August about two weeks before school started. It should have been, but it wasn't.
As all these and many more thoughts swirled through my head, I gripped the steering wheel and drove with slightly blurred vision. I dedicated that drive, and later, that test, to the eight year old dreaming of a master's degree, to the awkward high school student with lofty aspirations, to the woman two years ago who felt grad school was beyond her reach.
And as I pulled into the test parking lot, 45 minutes early, armed with my three sharpened number 2 pencils, I couldn't stop thinking, "How blessed am I!"