No, this isn’t a blog about dick jokes. It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about for a while but haven’t made time to really dig into. I’ve been talking a lot about taking the GRE lately on Twitter and it’s my definition of personal hell. I’ve always sucked at math. My guidance counselor in high school laughed at me when I told him my dream was to go to the Air Force Academy (thank you Iron Eagle and Top Gun) but to do that, I needed to be in advanced algebra. Of course, I didn’t let him tell me no and subsequently spent the next four years in high school being that kid who always asked the same question over and over and over again until it clicked.
It never really did.
Fast forward 16 plus years and I’ve literally done everything I can to avoid math. I say this with the irony of my life being that I’m the one who does the taxes and balances the checkbook every month but I digress. I’m not a math fan. I wish I was. I wish I was the kind of person who could add up tips in their head and do multiplication without using a calculator. Sadly, I’m not. And all of this avoidance of math is coming back to haunt me at the moment because I’ve spent the last two weeks and will spend the next two weeks, cramming for the GRE.
See I’ve got this wild hair across my fourth point of contact that I want to go teach at West Point and I need to get into graduate school to do this. Now, I don’t think I’m a moron but let me tell you, that first GRE practice test I took didn’t agree. When I say abysmal, it’s new definitions of the word. I can stare at a quant problem all damn day and never have a clue how to start working it.
But today, I did something a teeny bit different. I read an article somewhere that talked about how chocolate has some of the same chemical effects on the body as marijuana. I’ve never really been a fan of weed, so obviously, the chocolate news came as a huge boon to my excuse factory of why I needed chocolate in the house. And I’ve also discovered that a glass of wine is enough to just take the edge off. I’m not pounding an entire bottle. Just one glass.
So today, I sat down, loaded up the practice exam and went to town. I’ve been studying vocab all week. I’ve got math flash cards. But nothing really mattered as much as not feeling that squeezing pressure on my chest as I went through the quant sections on the exam. One of the test tricks the books teach you is to skip the questions you don’t know and take the easy test first by answering the ones you did know. So I did that but this time, I didn’t feel guilty or scared or nervous. I just clicked through.
The verbal section didn’t change much. But the quant? I raised my quant score significantly on the new scale. Which isn’t to say that I’m passing yet but I’m closer today than I was last week. And I felt better when I saw that little jump in the numbers. Was it because I’d been studying? Maybe. But I’m actually more inclined to think that without the anxiety squeezing off air to my brain, I was able not to panic a little more and was able to actually, well, think.
So anxiety matters. And while I’m still working on dealing with that through deep breathing, sometimes, a glass of wine will do the trick, too. Maybe a glass of wine and few pieces of Godiva made the difference.
The world may never know.