Well, week 1 of Comps Hell Month is gone.
When Brent took his first comp, he called me on his way home, energized and jubilant. He even said the words "kicked ass." When I finished my comp last week, I felt like I was the one who'd been kicked. Down a couple flights of stairs. Repeatedly. By someone with big hobnailed boots on. What are hobnailed boots? It doesn't matter. It sounds scary and painful and that fits.
I just wasn't prepared enough. I don't know if it's possible that I could have been prepared enough. But I could have done better than I did. My answers were disorganized, rambly, and probably not so intelligent. I find it hard to believe that I did so bad that I would fail, but I certainly didn't do well. I think I pulled a very solid mediocre. I should have done better.
Of course everyone wants to know how it went. I find it hard to be honest and say, "rotten." These are people I go to school with after all and I have to keep up a facade of intelligence and bravado. But the truth is, I feel rotten and I'm scared to even review the crap I wrote because it'll confirm my worst fears...or even worse, tell me I wasn't feeling bad enough already 'cause it's even worse than I thought.
There's no relief in sight, folks. I don't get to know how I did (officially) on any of this until February sometime, and even then, I don't think you get feedback on an individual exam. You just pass, or not. That can be a little comforting when I'm in the mood of "I've never failed anything in my life (well, except for that physics test in high school, but that doesn't count because my 22 was the 2nd highest grade in the class) so I can't possibly fail this either"--then I can feel justified in a little dark optimism because, mediocre is all you need in an overall pass/fail scenario.
But I just should have been able to articulate this stuff a little better. I know what I think about stem cells. I know what I think about the moral status of animals. I don't know why I couldn't present my thoughts in a little more creditable way.
So, now that I'm feeling so good about myself and all, Exam #2 is up this Wednesday: History of Doctrine. Unlike the Ethics comp I just took in spectacularly mediocre fashion, I don't know what my possible questions are. I know nothing, in fact, other than my topics: patristic Christology, St. Augustine on "moral psychology," and medieval women mystics on the same. I have 3 days to frantically review the reading that I have frantically done previously, and to sit and fret about trying to guess what my questions might be so I can adequately prepare. I don't even know how many questions there might be.
Some of you might remind me that I should realize now that Life is Bigger than Comps. Fine, I know it. But right now that's a liability. Look at what just happened when I walked into Ethics all relaxed and "I can handle it" and "Life is Bigger than Comps"-ish. I sucked, that's what happened. So right now I have to pretend that Life=Comps, and don't try to talk me out of it.
Someday soon there will be a happy post but I wouldn't look for it until after October 19. That's Exam #3, Philosophy. That one is "friendlier" than History of Doctrine but still...I didn't manage to read the whole history of human thought listed on the bibliography, so I'm underprepared for that one as well.
I really wish I could recover the academic confidence I had as a 1st grader, back when I was best at everything and I never even had to try.