Well first off, it sucks ass.
I mean, I’ve spent practically a year studying for this thing. I decided to go at my own pace so that I didn’t feel rushed. Granted, I wasn’t consistently studying every single day over that length of time, but I still studied. I felt ready. You could read a question off from the sample test or the review questions, and I’d know the correct answer most of the time.
Only, the week leading up to today was plain silly. I started to feel uncomfortable. Anxious. Nervous. On edge. My heart felt like it was pounding, and my brain felt as though it was being filled to max capacity.
People would tell me it was no big deal, that I was going to “ace” the ACE test with no problems, which only added to my crazy anxiety. What if I didn’t? What if I FAILED? What would people think about me, and my capabilities?
My husband calls this “performance anxiety”. You’d imagine something like this for an individual who has stage fright, or an anxiety dealing with people, which I have neither of those.
No, mine seems to come from left field, and pertains to tests. See, being almost mid-30’s, I’d assumed I had rid myself of those demons. Yet it was there in full force, slowly building up energy leading up to this morning, as I drove to the testing site with my heart pounding irrationally in my chest. I tried to calm my nerves, and take deep breaths, but it felt impossible while sitting in the waiting room. I felt a flush creep over my neck and face as I sat down in front of one of the testing computers.
From the get go, I found the test to be difficult and I had a hard time comprehending. I was reading the sentences but unable to put them together so they would make sense. I literally felt PANIC. I had to get up and use the restroom a few times during the test, just to close my eyes and attempt to center myself, to chill out. Reassure myself it was just a test, and there wasn’t any pressure related to it. I am sitting here while typing this, shaking my head, dumbfounded at the way I reacted today, because it just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m the girl who previously in her employment would meet with random strangers, take their information and show them apartments as though we were long lost friends (or cordial, professional acquaintences). I was never nervous or felt out of place with someone. I never had “stage fright”. Yet this test made me downright SCARED. I was second-guessing everything.
Is that extension? Flexion? Golgi tendon? Bicep brachii?
It was as though most of it didn’t make sense to me anymore. I couldn’t even picture what the words were trying to relay to me.
I took nearly the entire 3-hour time allotted to me, and decided it was time to submit the test for scoring. ACE gives you 150 questions, and then randomly selects 125 for scoring. The remaining 25 are used as test questions for potential future tests.
And I FAILED. Not by much. I actually did better than I thought I would, given the circumstances, but I still felt the weight and terribleness of failure.
On the drive home, I contemplated just throwing in the towel and flipping ACE the bird. I know of someone who went and got certified in barbell by attending a weekend workshop and then learned the routine choreographed by the company she went through. She did her practicals and is now instructing. Why did I have to go this route, pay more money, only to flunk the test? Do I really want to go through this hell again, which made me cry, and not because of failing. Lord knows I have failed plenty in my life. No, because of the torture I felt at being put through the testing experience. I understand that I wasn’t put under duress by anyone (and not ACE, I sought out ACE of my own free will) but the way I felt in that small room for three hours was just awful.
But then it occurred to me that I always do OK the second time around. I failed my first driving test at 16 due to this performance anxiety. I was all over the place and just a mess! I waited two years before I took the test again, and I passed with a 95% (which anyone who has seen my driving would not believe me, but it’s true). It was almost as if knowing what to expect helped to alleviate my fears, and I was able to come out more confident and in charge. I was trying so hard to find a silver lining to today, and I am still clasping onto that one as tightly as I can. I’ve now gone through this. Really, if I take away the emotional turmoil that I put onto myself, the experience wasn’t bad at all. I just go on a computer and select the correct responses. How hard can that really be?
And do I really want to just give up? Not really. I want to just pass the damn test! And that means I need to work harder and work on overcoming my anxiety.
But not today.
Today, I’ll be at home, moping around if anyone needs me. Definitely a sundae or slice of pie kind of day.
Information about performance anxiety: read here