Progressive shock

I couldn’t believe the grade that I was seeing for my finance exam.

Slowly, results of my finals trickled in my inbox, and while they weren’t as high as the grades from last semester, they were high enough for my GPA to be more or less unaffected. I wasn’t particularly happy nor upset. Finally, more than a month after the exam took place, the grades for corporate finance were published.

Without hesitation, I clicked the link to view my grade. In the split second it took for the page to load, I could almost hear my heartbeat quicken. Then the page loaded, and in bold, glaring out at me, I saw “3.9” written on the screen. (This is out of 10, with a minimum passing grade of 5.5.) My eyebrows raised in mild disbelief, and I reloaded the page, believing as if that would somehow change the results.

It didn’t.

In quiet shock, I sit at my desk, unsure of how to proceed. I check the main page again, and see my overall grade for the course. There, I saw that I had just scraped by, achieving the minimum passing grade of 5.5. My midterm grade combined with my final averaged out to a pass. A miniscule portion of my dismay dissipated, as I wouldn’t be required to retake the final exam or the whole course. Shrugging, I texted my regular study partner about how I did, and was more or less unsurprised to hear that he’d also failed. It wasn’t that I expected him to; I just felt cold, immune to any further surprises.

For the next couple hours, knowledge of my failure sat at the back of my mind, a nagging, unsettling feeling that made everything from making lunch to biking to school exasperating. Midway through my bike ride it felt like another wave of shock hit me in the face, stronger than last time. (Or it might have been the wind, it gets gusty in Holland.) I blinked a couple times, then literally shook myself, as if to try and clear off the negative feelings. “How could you possible fail an exam?” was the question being asked incessantly in my head.

Sitting in a two hour lecture allowed the shock to fester, and by the time I stepped out I was a step away from just yelling out my frustration. “Why did you have to be so stupid enough to fail the exam?” became the next question asked on repeat.

I am grateful to my friends, because the shock peaked and then faded in lieu of laughs and conversation when we all sat down in the food court on campus. After some light-hearted banter about how dumb we must be to have done so badly, one of them offered to buy all-you-can-eat dinner for all of us, to lift our spirits. (He’d just made 100% return on his Bitcoin investment, wisely deciding to sell well before the bubble burst.) Amongst good food, good company and some drinks afterwards, thoughts about the exam drifted to the background once more.

I don’t have a lesson to end this post on. I would like to say something like “pick yourself up after failure”, “you’re the only one who can fix your own mistakes” or “stop being upset and start working”, but I don’t feel as if I’ve even started  to follow any of those pieces of advice. I know I should, but I haven’t. It feels as if the shock has stripped away my motivation, my purpose for trying to do well in school.

I hope I rediscover it soon.

Shock

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