I struggle with the need to win approval.
Growing up, it was easy to be the teacher’s pet. School came easily to me. But some time into college, things got a little more difficult. It was harder to win the approval of the professors I admired. It became increasingly difficult to stand out as a student, to impress anyone. I began to feel intimidated by the professors I looked up to.
This has increased exponentially in grad school. Granted, no one told me it was going to be easy. I didn’t have any starry-eyed expectations of floating into a Masters program, kicking back for two years, and somehow earning all A’s. I knew I was going to have to work my ass off. I set high expectations for myself right off the bat. I wanted to be a badass.
I went into midterm week knowing there was one exam in particular that was going to give me trouble. I studied hard. I reviewed all materials, asked other students about the things I was unclear of, contributed to the group study guide, contributed to the group study session, and I went into the exam feeling confident. When I sat down to write all five pages, typed, no notes, no books, no outlines, just me and two essay questions and two hours, I felt competent. I thought I did a good job. I left midterm week believing that was the best one I produced.
We got it back tonight… before our prof handed the exams back, he addressed the midterms. He told us he was disappointed in us. He said, in our class of 9, he gave two A’s. But because he likes our class and believes we understand the material but just didn’t understand the exam, he didn’t give anything lower than a B-.
I got that B-. In a class where I felt confident, where I feel I can articulate myself just as well, if not better, than my colleagues, I got the lowest grade in the class. AND it was a pity grade, because the prof likes us.
So, here it is, Internet. Here’s the real life crap that blogs don’t tell you. I’m upset. I’m disappointed in myself because now I just feel like a B- student. Am I cut out for this? Will I forever be doomed to the B- out of pity? Will all my best work, the work I’m most proud of, just consistently be worth a B-?
I’m craving encouragement from a professor who thinks I’m worth investing time into, who thinks I’ve got a special something, who thinks I can DO THIS. I want to win the approval of those I admire. There’s nothing worse than disappointing those I admire.
I’m feeling intimidated and I know this is linked to a bruised ego and unstable self-esteem. I’m feeling hurt because I thought I was someone worth an investment. I’m feeling let down because I truly thought I handed in an exam worthy of an A. I know that grad school isn’t supposed to come easily, but I’m feeling mediocre.