A year ago, almost to the day, I took the GRE. I did very poorly on it. I signed up about two weeks in advance, and I barely studied because I was so busy. At the time I was also very stressed out about graduating college, trying to find a grad school, and just making general life plans. I didn’t take the exam very seriously because I had all of these other things going on.

Even though I was ill-prepared  and extremely busy, I still put a lot of pressure on myself to do well on the GRE. I knew that I needed a decent score to apply to graduate programs, so I expected to do well. When I did the opposite of well – 30th percentile quantitative and 50th percentile verbal – I was crushed. The pressure of trying to get a good score combined with all the stress from everything else was too much for me to handle and I broke down at the end of the test after I got my scores. My then-boyfriend made a feeble attempt at trying to comfort me.

Two days later my then-boyfriend broke up with me (at least I knew why his comforting attempt had been so feeble). If I thought the test had crushed me, then I was utterly wrong. The breakup was about 10000000000000 times worse. That’s an exaggeration obviously, but that’s how it felt at the time. We had dated for almost three years, almost entirely throughout college, and to my knowledge there was nothing wrong with our relationship. So it was a shock for me.

At this time last year, my life really really sucked. I hated absolutely everything and everyone and I just wanted to give up on college and grad school and people and everything. I did give up on grad school, for the time being. I decided to wait a year (maybe two) and then apply, rather than apply right out of undergrad.

Since I still plan to go to grad school at some point in the near future, I’ve signed up for the GRE again. Only this time I gave myself 10 weeks to prepare, I bought one of those test prep books, and I’ve been studying everyday. I also have a lot less going on in my life so I won’t be as stressed out and distracted. It’s really important to me that I do well on this test. Not just to have a good score so I can get into a good program. This exam represents a lot more for me. Right now, it represents my failure and the shitty period of my life a year ago. If I do well this time around, it will be like a sense of accomplishment for me. I can say that I improved on my past self, and have concrete proof that things are much better for me a year later.

I am taking the test in a few weeks, at the end of October. This time, I’ll be prepared. This time, I’ll do well. This time, I won’t be crushed and spiral into a black hole of sorrow and dejection. This time, I will conquer. All the things and the people (looking at you, ex-dumbass) that stood in my way last year will not be in my way this year. I’m like a mighty T-Rex. I’m big and scary and I’m not taking anyone’s shit

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