Some of you out there, like the 2 who don't personally know but read this blog, may not know this, but I am very competitive. With myself. Really. It's a good thing that I'm not two actual selves, because when I lose, I am mean and bitter. When I don't make the grade I think I should (which, honestly, is always an A), I am not pleasant to be around. I tried to amend this thinking the first time in graduate school by choosing a program that doesn't give letter grades. It worked. A bit. I suppose it helped, maybe.
Before school started a number of people told me not to focus on the grade, not to push so hard, that "B gets the degree", that no one was ever going to ask for my GPA, the initials after my name would be what counted. I really tried to absorb that. My best friend said that if he could change one thing about his graduate school experience it would be to not work so hard on maintaining a 4.0 (as if I could even thing about that!) and enjoy the experience more. Blah, blah. Easy for him to say all these years later.
This time around, I am in a program that gives real grades, not narrative evaluations. I replayed the mantra in my mind, over and over. I tried to cut myself slack because I was also dealing with Lyme disease that fall. The first semester I knew I was barely getting by in Social Welfare Policy. I mean I got the concepts, totally grasped the evaluation tool when I read about it, but putting it all together? Not so much. My final grade was a B, and I sucked it up. But it was hard, seriously hard. Worse was the A- in Macro - what did I mess up on the final? I must have missed something, right? Hadn't I been running a solid A? Maybe I miscalculated. Seriously it kept me up at night. Eventually I got back to sleep because push come to shove I still had 3.68 GPA, not really that bad. (For the record, because I am this crazed on the topic, my spring GPA was 3.93.And again, I lost sleep over the one A-. See, competitive and must have the rest of the world acknowledge that I'm not a loser.)
Then on Sunday I got my grade for a reflective paper that rocked my world and caused me serious angst - an 80. AN 80! WTF! I don't get 80 on papers. The comments said things like I didn't reference the videos enough, that perhaps if I had done an outline (for a 5 page reflective frigging paper which had five questions that needed to be responded to which I goddamn covered!), blah, blah. If I really owned up to my reaction, it was not the pissed at the professor I as I was touting. I was peeved at myself for not doing better, for not putting more effort into it. This is always my response - even when I get an 98. Seriously. I might have a tiny problem here. Today in class I found that at least two other students, who also "never" get 80, got exactly that on the paper, which of course made me feel much better. The professor then spoke about her grading methodology and apparently the only A's she gives out is for work far above her expectation for graduate work and a B was for solid, very good work that would be what she would expect from excellent work from a grad student. Sigh. Okay, once again I will work on letting go of my competition with myself (which desperately wants that 4.0 to top the spring semester's GPA). It is an ongoing exercise in all facets of my life - I could have done better, spent more time, done it perfectly, been more compassionate, and on and on and on. Apparently I am still perfectionism's bitch.