From The Blog

Do We Ever Really Leave High School?

Most grown ups harbor an inner teenager still struggling to make it in high school. Deep down – even as adults – we’re all a bit...

Most grown ups harbor an inner teenager still struggling to make it in high school. Deep down – even as adults – we’re all a bit insecure, a bit awkward, and a bit worried about where, exactly, life will take us.

Among other things, it’s this inner-high-school universal which helps to explain the popularity of the hit television show Glee!.

It also explains my attitude towards taking the UK citizenship last week.

Let me preface this by saying that I am, by nature, one of those people who has recurrent dreams about test anxiety. I frequently dream that I’m back in high school – invariably in a Math class. I learn that there’s a test that very day, but I freak out because I haven’t been attending the class regularly or doing the homework.

The odd thing about this dream is that I’ve never been unprepared for a test in my life. But the anxiety is there, lurking just below the surface, just as it surely was in high school.

And so I studied my ass off for this thing. I read the five required chapters from the Life In The UK Handbook religiously. By the end of the first week, I could break down the British population by region, religion, ethnicity. The age at which can obtain a driver’s license for a medium-sized lorry (truck) vs. a large one? No problem. What makes the House of Commons different from the House of Lords? Easy peasy.

I went On line and took some 50 practice tests – none of which I came even close to failing – and then went back and re-read the fine print in the Life in the UK Handbook a few more times. Just, you know, for good measure.

Despite all of this preparation, when the test day rolled around, I was really anxious. I got to the test center early and waited for my husband (who, true to form, arrived on his bicycle with only a few minutes to spare and was still studying even as we registered with the immigration officials. Among other things, taking a test with your spouse also reinforces your central marital “ziplock” conflict.).

When we finally sat down to take the test, I breezed right through it. I was certain of 20 out of 24 of the questions, and took an educated guess on the other four. (You need to get 18 right to pass.) I completed the entire thing – including double and triple-checking my answers – in five minutes flat.

That’s right. Five minutes.

Needless to say, I passed. When I got the news from the immigration official, I was elated. Ridiculously, absurdly so. And *not*, I hasten to add, because I was that much closer to having permanent residency in the U.K.

Rather, my exuberance all stemmed from the challenge of having studied hard for a test and having aced it.

That said, because they don’t actually tell you how many – and which questions – you got wrong unless you fail, I couldn’t know for sure if I’d gotten 75% right or 100%. And damn it, I wanted to know!

So as soon as I got my result, I rushed back to my seat and poured over the Handbook to check all of my answers on the tricky questions. And every time I discovered that I’d answered one correctly, I pumped my fist in the air and let out a “Yesssssssssssssssssssss!”

My husband, who by now was in queue to get his own result, looked over at me at one point and asked, incredulously: “Is this how you were in high school?”

Sadly, yes. And I suspect that’s true for most of us. Whether it’s taking an important test or competing in a do-or-die football match or finally screwing up the courage to ask the girl you’ve had a crush on to Senior Prom, none of us ever fully escapes the clutches of high school.

Ever.

And thank goodness for that. What on earth would I blog about?

 

Image: img057 by Haonavy via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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  1. Daryl Boylan July 18, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Actually, I never had much test anxiety in high school, not even much for math tests, because for those I was always resigned to floundering and about other subjects I was reasonably secure. So far as I was concerned, tests sure beat having to write long papers, an exercise for which I truly had to gird up my loins, my brain, my will power, & any other working parts.

  2. Kristen @ Motherese July 18, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Hi Delia,

    I can totally relate to this post. I have the same kind of dreams – almost always a calculus exam I hadn’t studied for in a class I had never attended. And, like you, I can’t remember ever being unprepared for a test in real life. (I think we need a Freudian analyst to tell us what’s going there…or maybe not.)

    I’ve never taken a citizenship exam, but I completely over-studied for the driving test I had to take when I moved to a new state four years ago, despite having been a good driver for the 15 years before. (And I too was delighted when I aced the test and “beat” my husband’s score.)

    Congratulations on acing your test! And thanks for letting me know that we share the same testing predilections.

    • delialloyd July 19, 2011 at 7:15 am #

      yeah, it’s always calculus, ain’t it? fellow travellers one and all…

  3. Jean July 18, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Congrats, and I can completely relate : )

  4. BigLittleWolf July 20, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    I can thoroughly relate to this (nerdy kid that I was (am?)…

    I had dreams for years that there was just one more exam left… before I could get my degree, and I hadn’t known, hadn’t studied, and wasn’t prepared. (These dreams for many years after finishing college and grad school, both, of course.)

    Thankfully, my sons don’t obsess like this at all. (Is this more of a female phenomenon?)

    So how did Hubby do? ;)

    • Delia Lloyd July 20, 2011 at 9:34 am #

      hmmm…maybe it’s time to form a support group for people who still dream about test anxiety. hubby passed as well-he crammed and came out fine. all’s well that ends well-next stop, immigration office on Friday!

  5. Cathy August 3, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    I do not ever recall having test anxiety but one thing I know for sure, I hated high school.

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