It’s just an exam. I’ve been told that before by very many well –wishers, friends, family and the rest. And I want to believe them; I do, for my own good. It’s just an exam, and I handle those well. But just when I want to believe myself, my brains sends off a contradictory message to my body and I shiver. My pulse racing and my heart beats like it were playing on a radio by my side. I break into a sweat. Of course, if am not anxious about the exam, then I am anxious that I may be anxious and what am I going to do then? How am I going to perform? How am I going to unlock the key to my happiness that lies in this very exam? It’s a vicious cycle and it can eat you up. And not just gobble you up in a jiffy, it tears you apart, bit by bit.
After a year or more of having been through this cycle, I have learnt to gauge it. I can dodge it and protect myself at least. I will not let my fear consume me. This in itself has been a great achievement. Of learning who I am; knowing that there are things I am good at and there are things that scare me. Knowing, that we are still as prone to fear as we were perhaps as children.
Why I initially sat down to write this post however was to share an experience. I am unwell and I actually managed to take the day off. Yes, so? What’s the catch here? Precisely what I thought at the end of the day. Why does this surprise me? It’s because this exam has taught me how to run and frankly, I have forgotten how to stop running. Not to suggest that I am constantly working. No. but I am constantly preoccupied with work, so much so that I can’t stop from myself from either doing it or thinking about it or just worrying about it. I woke up and decided that I was ill and I would allow myself the rest. No books for the day. But what do I do with myself? Watch a movie? Read a novel? Sleep? What would you like to do, I asked myself. And nothing came to mind.
So I aimlessly spent hours on facebook, obsessively played a game on my phone and then just read a little from a book I am reading for the exam, academic book but not a text book. What has the exam done to me? It has erased me off me. When I was in school and I had to study for the exams, there were a whole list of things that would come to my mind just when the exams were around the corner. And I would think, If only! In fact, I would make a list of things I want to do just after the exams end. I no longer have any lists to make. I just want the exam to happen, and I just want them to end. And perhaps then, life can begin.
But life isn't on a standstill. That's my perception. There will be a time when I shall look back at these times and will most probably renew my perception. And given my track record, I'm mostly likely to look back fondly. Nostalgia as we say, or just time, changes the way we look at things. Mostly because the emotional upheavels subside, or are replaced with more pressing issues. The people, events, situations are all different and we can see things more clearly, minus the shading of events by our emotions. The problem that remains with such an approach is that in the present, I don't exist in a happy state. Surely, there are happy moments, hours, days, but on the whole, life feels blase, routine and almost monotonous. But I survive, because there is the promise of "life" that is yet to come. The life when I will have the perfect hair, the perfect body, the perfect spouse, the perfect children, the perfect home and the perfect life.