Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Proper Schagrins

I don't think we ever really leave high school.

They kick us out before we get a chance to resolve much of anything. It's just this big angst filled hole of questions, possibilities, hormones, bad clothes and beautiful moments with some pom poms and trophies thrown in for good measure.

I had a teacher there who was amazing. He was smart, well adjusted, a non-bureaucrat and had this way of talking to us like adults that I really appreciated.

Since he was such a good guy they gave him the honors track of kids so we got to spend a good amount of time together. My band also jammed in his office after hours (he was a pretty cool teacher) so we got a chance to chat a lot. We knew he loved his honors kids but he always kind of made fun of us. He called us drama queens and "reactionary" because of the All-Or-Nothing mentality we somehow managed to create and propagate in our over-anxious group think. He would sit back and laugh at how high strung we would get about tests and projects ie G.A.T.E. Syndrome.

G.A.T.E Syndrome - thinking that one flaw in the mix will damn you to a lifetime of manual labor and life in the gutter.

Or what my mother calls "Clearing away the wreckage of your future"

**this is a direct quote from a conversation I had with a classmate before an AP Bio exam in 10th grade. Imagine a stressed out Chinese girl who hasn't eaten for 2 days in mid-histerics and speaking at mach 2.**

"If I don't get a good grade on this test then I will get a low GPA and if I don't have a perfect GPA then I won't get into a good college and then I won't get a good job and I'll have to ask for change in the gutter to get by and take my meals at the Salvation Army."

I shared the views of my teacher for the most part. I never really felt my life was on the line with every test or project. But after him bringing it to light with such candor and seeing such gross evidence of it all around me, I resolved to be a bit more checked when it came to big tests and projects, to perspective, and not fixate on grades. My mantra from then has been "It's what I learn, not the marks I get" and I've been very loyal to it. There was a class in college where I was given an A and all I did was be the talkative person my professor wanted but I didn't learn a thing so I retook the class, got a B and felt much better about life.

But apparently October is the season for departures of rational thinking.

I got my midterm back and I passed and passed well. I didn't lead the class, and I didn't expect to, but my grade immediately left me feeling very foolish about how worried I was about it. I know there were a lot of prayers and positive thoughts going out for and to me because I have a marvelous group of people that love me and that were beautifully patient with my GATE Syndrome relapse - because that's exactly what it was.

Like most things - I am going to be OK.

A bit shook up, and given a reminder that I have to actually try this time around and not phone it in, but I'm OK. I'm still breathing and I'm not going to flunk out of college and become a Meter Maid that lawn bowls on the weekend and watches Bridges of Madison County once a week.

Not yet at least. We'll see how Grad School treats me.

For today, right now, I'm OK - and suddenly missing my band mates from high school. We did a mean Buffalo Springfield cover - let me tell ya.


Kim said...

Aaron doesn't get my G.A.T.E. Syndrome. He just sees it as me overreacting, and not as the real disease that it is. Should we start a non-profit for raising awareness? We could have annual high school band geek & drama nerd reunions. Forget this 10-year thing. ;)

Ms. Liz said...

amen sistah! Perhaps start a help line for high strung teen angst about futures and self worth attached to GPAs. lol!