Ah! The post exam relief is sublime…the end of responsibilities, no need to feel guilty about reading The Kite Runner when you are supposed to be reading Process Analytical Technology, no need to feel like you are wasting time listening to music when you should be captivated by Quality by Design and such like. It is a moment of freedom, where you realize that you are truly done with your subject for the semester. The chains have been untied and you are free to pursue what you really want…aimless enjoyment and idle pursuits.
Or so it is for most people.
To me, there is a cold emptiness that follows the end of an exam. I don’t want to read books, or listen to music now that it is not taboo anymore. I don’t know about others, but I’ve not been a model student during any part of my life. My parents have never really had the joy of telling their cousins and the like about how I’m always first in class, although I find it hard to believe the embellishments of all my aunts of how their children are perennial toppers. Somehow, the numbers never added up. There are far too many toppers for me to take those statistics seriously…but I digress.
A lot of our syllabi have revolved around memorization skills, with the best parrots in class sweeping up the top spots. With all due respect to their hard work and dedication, I’ve always nursed the idea that education should be about making professionals and experts and not mere encyclopedias of trivia…and I’m so not alone.
So whenever an exam has presented itself, I’ve found myself neglecting the memorization parts on principle, and taking the low marks without a frown. The parents were disappointed, but I couldn’t care less most of the time. I have to admit something controversial here. I have always loved exams. The idea of a piece of paper, if well framed, being able to judge what I have taken out of a course fascinates me to no end.
Getting my grades were a kick too, for I was so arrogant and self-satisfied that unless I am really convinced otherwise, I have always used my grades to judge whether a course was taught, tested or graded fairly. This happens most of the time.
I have been lucky for the most part of my academic life inasmuch as I have never had to work too hard. I can’t help feel bereft of that supreme sense of satisfaction that one should feel after working hard over something and seeing it to fruition. Chalk it up to arrogance, ADHD or plain laziness, I have always been on the casual side.
Hence the emptiness.
I spoke to a friend of mine, one who has these problems too (I have seemed to attract many friends who share my affliction). If anything, that guy probably needs to work even less than I do for results similar to mine. I put forth a theory to him expecting him to smash it with positive logic, but he concurred, and not only so, he even added to it.
So, our theory is that people like us (and there are many) who don’t work hard for some tasks, (academics being at the forefront) do so because of an all-consuming fear of failure. They are so afraid to give everything to a task, because they don’t want to find out that their everything is not enough to excel at said task. In other words, they do not want to accept the finiteness of their abilities. They are far more secure in their fool’s paradise where they proudly put in less effort, and are not surprised when the consequences are not excellent. Worse still, they almost look down upon the ones who dive into their responsibilities accepting their faults and shortcomings and trying to fix them. Many would not want to admit this, and are going to be shattered when they see this, and see themselves in this. Of course, if there are so myopic about themselves that they ignore this theory, they will need a stronger stimulus. So deep is their denial that they would probably never see the light. Maybe their denial will last as long as they do. If so, I don’t know whether to pity them or envy them.
I’ll settle for a compromise. I will understand them, for I’ve been there too. I have always noticed that my blog posts are more objective than most. It’s probably because I’d rather focus on external issues than turn the microscope inwards. I guess I should take heart in that I’ve recognized that problem now, and it is not too late to reform.
This post is more serious and vulnerable than others, so I hope my readers would forgive my indulgence. The ends of certain times are times of introspection and personal growth. Who knows, maybe my readers would use this post to look inwards and find their vulnerabilities too. At a minimum, this post puts forward a theory worth discussing.