Some Pressure Bust Pipes...
Hi, my name is Joy Woods and I am extremely hard on myself. Nice to meet you.
I feel like that should just be written across my forehead or on at least a shirt because if I do not do anything else well, I beat myself up like a pro. And I only got better at this as I entered graduate school.
Here I was sitting in my first class of my graduate school career, failing our daily quizzes. I was the only black person in the room and I instantly thought to how someone told me I only got in because I was black and they needed black students. It did not help that I could see the grade range on each assignment, and I almost always had the lowest score.
I went into every assignment with an attitude that I was already defeated. I already failed in my head. Every time I would try to meet with my professor for guidance and clarification I was met with some ambiguous advice.
Mind you, this was all before I found out I had any learning disabilities, so I really began to feel like I did not belong in grad school. Imposter syndrome popped up and I didn't know how to fight it. Then couple that with depression and class seemed almost impossible.
I would spend hours reading, taking notes, reviewing, and researching and the result was still the same: a failing grade.
Ever since I was little, there had been an emphasis placed on grades and academics. I was not allowed to bring home anything less than an A. And if I did, I got in trouble and something taken away. Fast forward to being an adult, and that pressure that once was applied by my father is now subconsciously applied by my own doing.
And there is some saying that talks about pressure create diamonds or whatever; however, some pressure bust pipes. High (blood) pressure is not good either. Basically, pressure isn't always good. I am positive that I busted my metaphorical pipes so much so that I laid on the floor of my boyfriend's living room in the fetal position crying. I did not know what else to do.
Even thinking about this incident brings up some type of sadness in me; however, I must talk about it because I feel that there is a lesson somewhere in there.
The lesson I learned, with the help of my therapist and a good friend, is that I had to detach myself from the grade. Or even the negative feedback a professor gave me.
This was/is very hard for me. I have been attached to a grade my entire life. The mantra "grades equal money" is engrained in my head I can almost hear my father's voice saying it now. I honestly still do not know who I am without school. When every conversation is rooted and or related to school, it is hard to detach myself from a letter grade. But I am actively trying.
I am learning to un-grade myself. I am learning that my intelligence is not truly measured by some grade given by some professor on some arbitrary exam.
Don't get me wrong, I still find myself applying pressure when its not needed. I still find myself upset at the process that I refuse to respect. I look around and I see people advancing faster than me, and I begin to question if I am even smart.
I have found that the majority of my life I lived in a house with busted pipes that never got fixed. Every room was flooded. Every area of my life was flooded with unnecessary stress and unwelcome anxiety.
But now I am 23 and trying to get my life together (it is a never ending process) and slowly letting these flooded rooms air out. I got some new pipes so to speak.
Not all pressure makes diamonds, some pressure will bust some fucking pipes. But the important thing is to not ignore the flooding until it is too late. Do not be like me. Do not find yourself in the fetal position of a living room floor drowning in your own emotional flood.
Detaching yourself from a grade--be it real or metaphorical--is like trying to remove a leech once it has latched on. But it is not impossible, difficult but not impossible.