I’ve reached a point now where I’m starting to get more and more questions right per “game.” There have been a few games now that I’ve scored perfectly on, and several others where I’ve missed only one or two.
The ones I fail miserably at, though, are standing out most in my mind. There’s celebration when I “win,” but it’s nothing compared to the panic when I “lose.”
I’m seized immediately by fear that I’m too stupid for this. That I’m wasting not only my time, but my family’s time as well. All the time and energy I’m putting into this project is time and energy I am necessarily not spending with them. That little voice in the back of my mind nags that I’m a selfish fool, so If I’m going to do this, I had better do it well. “Failures” like this make me doubt that I can.
It’s ridiculous, I know, that such small failures (if they can even really be called that) cause me such dramatic doubt, but they do. I’m horribly insecure about my intellect. I’ve been a slightly-above-mediocre student my whole life (top half of everything except math and gym), though I’ve always known that if I had put in more effort I could’ve been a top student.
Or so I’ve always let myself believe. I don’t think I ever didn’t really try that hard because I was afraid that if I tried and failed it would prove I really was as mediocre as my actual performance indicated, but that I didn’t put in the extra effort because I am lazy. I will admit that: I am lazy, and it more than likely is the root of my mediocrity.
But what if I’m wrong about that? WHAT IF I’m not mediocre because I’m lazy, but because I really am mediocre or less?
So I’m nervous for that reason (in addition to others) about this whole endeavor, and any setback feeds that insecurity. When I “fail” I feel like I’m “caught” pretending to be something I’m not, where the thing I am not is “smart” and the thing I’m “caught” at is being “stupid.” A wolf in sheep’s clothing, who, to mix metaphors, discovers the clothes never existed. (Does that make any sense? I’m not sure anymore.)
The big problem is now that the games are starting to click, I’m starting to expect more of myself. In the beginning I knew I would get most of the questions wrong because these things are hard for me, but now I know I can get them right. When I go back to the explanations of the ones I get wrong, more often than not now the right answer is obvious. This was not always the case, and that progress both thrills and frightens me. If they’re so obvious, why am I getting them wrong? If I’m going to get these things wrong, then why am I doing all this work and making these sacrifices (and putting them on my family as well)?
And now I’m into the logical reasoning. This is harder for me than I thought it would be. In the initial practice test, I did fine on it. Not a stellar score, but better than 60%, so I didn’t worry much. Now that I know more about them but haven’t worked as extensively with this new understanding, I think I’m overapplying too much of my new arsenal of help and sinking my own ship. As I progress through more and more of these questions, I think I’ll be able to scale back what I bring to each question and not overwhelm myself into failure. It happened with the “games” so I think it can happen here.
Honestly, though, I’m not entirely sure. As I said, I’ve never really put this much effort into anything like this before. I didn’t have to; since I could do well enough to suit myself without it, why bother? So I didn’t. The one other thing I studied for, though not nearly to the extent to which I’m studying for this, was the math portion of the GRE, which I did horribly on twice, though my final score was satisfactory.
But that didn’t work, so how much can this? Stupid question, since evidence from the “games” is that it can work very well for me. But I’ve never really done this before, so I’m nervous.
Hell, I’m scared.