Tuesday, August 23, 2011

French Test = More Confidence

Last school year I took a French test twice and failed it twice.  It's a reading proficiency exam that every Art History graduate student has to take.  You can either take it in French or German (or Spanish if you are studying Art of the American West) and seeing that I had two semesters of French under my belt (both taken over 5 years ago) and only one semester of German, I chose French.

The first time I walked in to take the test, I thought I had done it! I thought I had rocked that test. But I found out later that wasn't the case. So I took it again. The second time I knew I hadn't passed, even as I walked out the door. I panicked and froze in that testing room! I watched the clock's big hand move around its face twice and even wrote a note to the grader, saying that I knew I had failed.  *Side note - The grader sent me a little note with the notification that I hadn't passed, saying something like, "I'm sorry this was so hard.  Don't give up Amy! You can do this!"  I thought that was extraordinarily kind and encouraging.

So today I'm getting ready to head down to Norman to take it again. I've been studying and I feel more prepared than the first two times. I'm hoping that it all goes well and I have more confidence in myself than I did last semester.  That seems to make a big difference in everything. I'm finding that the more confidence and peace that I carry with me, the more I can relax and take my hurdles in stride. James said to have fun with the test. "YEAH RIGHT!" I thought.  But he is right.  I can have fun with everything I do if I choose to. It's just a matter of taking a deep breath, treating today like any other day and seeing what I can do. (And being prepared really helps too!)

My fear has been that if I don't pass the test, I can't graduate. I can't even apply to graduate until that test has been conquered and time is running out!  That's a really big deal after all of these years of school, after giving up my job at the museum to finish my degree, not to mention the humiliation I'll feel if I can't complete what I started. Then there's the disappointment I fear that my dad will experience. I always want to make my family proud.  But most of all, I want to make myself proud. I don't want to ever give up! I am going to keep trying as long as the school will let me to get this right.

So we all face failure every now and then and goodness knows I have faced disappointment and dashed hopes over the past year (and not just at school), but I'm finding that every time I experience those things, it's an opportunity for life to whip me in a different direction and usually it's towards something that's better for me anyway. Failure or rejection is hard to swallow, and I'm not saying there is something better for me than finishing my masters, but I have this peace that whatever happens, it's going to be ok. And I'm still going to follow my dreams with 612, no matter what occurs in that testing room today.  I just have to give myself every chance to succeed and a big part of that is walking in with confidence, knowing that I can do this!

UPDATE:  The test went well! I won't know any results for a couple of weeks, but I know that I did better than the previous times I took the test. For one thing, I finished the test.  I couldn't even make it halfway through the last time. There might have been a few verb conjugations that were questionable, and there were a couple of sentences that didn't make the most sense, but otherwise, I feel good about it.  I learned a lot studying for it and I know that I improved, and that's important.  I also told fear where it could go when it creeped in during the test. It tried to take over, but I was mentally and emotionally stronger than that fear and that's what I'm most proud of. Confidence is key!!! So now all I have to do is just keep working and wait to see what happens!

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