Monday, August 11, 2008

the GRE and failure in general

Tomorrow I am taking the GRE.

There are a million thoughts running through my mind. Surprisingly, nervousness is not one of them. Rather, it is "you should be nervous...shouldn't you?"

I know that I am good at taking tests. After taking two practice tests I am confident that I will do "fine." But what does "fine" mean? Does it mean, those scores are good enough for me to get into some schools without having to work too hard? Is it my justification for how little I have studied this summer?

I find this to be quite reflective of my approach to academics in general. I know that I could have studied every day for the GRE and vastly improved my vocabulary and brushed up on even more math tactics and probably been assured of a pretty good score. But I don't do that. I simply avoid studying, saying that I will "study later," but really relying on my assumptions that I am intelligent and in general, a pretty good test taker. That has served me reasonably well so far throughout my academic career, but will that do as I advance into the "real world"? Will this GRE be the shocker that, at some point, I actually need to study and to try?

I know that people have often given me grief for being a good test taker and being good at school, and it honestly can get really annoying. It makes me feel guilty for succeeding as I have, and it has made me loath to try really hard because then I won't obviously be trying to do well and better than others.

I could try and blame it on others, but really I think it comes down to this: I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of actually trying, of putting my all into something and then finding out that I'm really not that good at something...or that someone is really, truly, honestly, just better than me. If I never actually try that hard, then I can always say that I haven't done my best and so that person isn't actually better than me...and in fact we will never know. I would rather leave how good I am up in the air than fully apply myself and fail.

Why? Why do I do that? It has to catch up to me someday, and I hope that it is not tomorrow afternoon when I take the GRE. I know that I have not gotten the best grades in college, and part of that is because I have learned that grades aren't everything. I spend more time with friends, and doing other things that are important in life. But I have also gotten lazy. Quite lazy. It's not just that I am afraid of failure, but also that I have gotten used to the fact that I can do reasonably well while not having to work that hard. So, I have gotten complacent and lazy. That is not acceptable.

I think this also applies to my spiritual life. I know that I can be a better Christian, and that God has so much in store for me. But I am scared to put myself out there because I am afraid that I will find out just how much of a sinner I actually am. Even more in my spiritual life I am afraid of working hard not just because I am afraid of failure, but because I know I will, inevitably, fail. Such is the nature of the Christian life. Shouldn't it make me feel better to know that Christ covers all of my sins? That even though I am a failure, Christ has made me perfect in God's eyes? Why does it still pain me to be wrong? Why is it unbearable for me to think about failing even in a situation where failing is a certainty, we are assured that everyone else does it, and we are automatically forgiven for it?

I think it's because the consequences are still earthly...and making mistakes means that we have to live through things that are uncomfortable, and I hate that. I hate letting other people down. I am also such a people pleaser that I am afraid to really try in my spiritual life because I am afraid of alienating those who might think it is weird or "judgemental" or "just a little too much."

I can blame all of this on other people but really it comes down to the fact that I am lazy. And that is a sin. But why am I not convicted of that? Why am I so complacent? Why I am I almost conceited in so many areas of my life, yet at the same time suffer from so much lack of self-esteem? How is that even possible?

I am afraid to find out who I really am in Christ, yet I know that is where the answers to all of my problems lie. The answers to my self-esteem issues, and the answers to my lack of failure. It just sucks that to get there, I have to fail in order for Christ to catch me. That is where I am having a difficult time giving Christ my all. And that, ultimately, is what has separated me from those living a truly Christian life and what will continue to separate me until I get up off of my complacent ass, stop being lazy and trust in God to catch me, and LOVE ME, when I fail.

It is that love only that will keep me going. I just haven't let him show me yet.

1 comment:

Karen said...

hi Elizabeth. I don't know you. I graduated from Wheaton last May and read people's blogs. That's how I found yours, through comments. And I wanted to say that I'm so impressed by your openness and honesty on your blog, about your experiences in Chicago and thinking about failure. I hear a lot of my experiences in your thoughts, and it is refreshing to read your perspective. God bless.