Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Studying For A Really Hard Exam

Studying for a really hard exam is the type of "who cares" bad day thing that it's socially appropriate to tell someone you don't really know about, but it is still painful enough to cause me to go to sleep feeling tense and have really vivid bad dreams. However, literally as soon as the exam is over, whether it went well or not, I forget about how painful it was to study for it. That makes it totally different than practically any other bad experience, you know? A new and better job doesn't take away the pain of having felt stupid and demoralized in your old one. A new and better relationship doesn't take away the pain of having been dumped in your old one. Those painful things become more distant, but you don't forget them like you forget studying for an exam.

So imagine if other bad things were like studying for an exam. Imagine if there was a guarantee that you only had to feel bad about your breakup for like three days or something, and then you'd have a new and better relationship right away. I bet you'd forget about the bad experience too, faster than fast.

Kind of makes me realize something, which is this: it's not the experience itself that was so bad. It's the endless business of thinking about it afterwards.


  1. I have certainly been down that road. You're bang on Jennie. In fact, I'd even say that the longer between good and bad things, those crappy feelings get magnified, and it creates a bad cycle that can be tough to get yourself out of.

  2. Man, I have had MANY painful exam-studying experiences that are "never again" moments and that I recall vividly to this day. In fact, three of them (Org Chem II, Intermediate Physiology, Organometallics) rank among the most physically unpleasant things I've experienced, counting unanaesthesised surgery. And 1L exam season felt like I'd obliterated my identity.

    Here's a "funny moment in grad school": once upon a time, I was telling someone in my lab that I'd had a nightmare about not being able to write anything at all for my Organic Synthesis exam. So he started sharing. And then we discovered that every single one of the ten students in our lab, plus the five in the lab next door, had had a nightmare about that exam.

    I'd still take an exam over a paper any day, though :(

  3. Consider yourself lucky. My exams haunt me like a freakin' poltergeist afterwards.

  4. Yeah, I haven't forgotten the pain of preparing for exams. Part of the reason I'm reluctant to go back to school!

  5. I'm with Steve and Suzanne ... I still have nightmares! Studying for my GMAT right now (literally taking a break) and I take that in 4 days .. these past 5 weeks will haunt me long after!